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The key to Cyber Protection is Preparation: How to be cyber protected?

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More than half of South African businesses were impacted by ransomware in 2022, according to a CSIR report on cybersecurity. If businesses don’t implement adequate cybersecurity strategies, this percentage will increase as the country’s reliance on digital technologies and the number of associated threats expand.

Weak passwords, outdated or unpatched software, phishing attacks, and SQL injection attacks are the easiest ways for hackers to gain access to an organization’s digital data.

Even though cyber-attacks cost the South African economy R2.2 billion per year, these vulnerabilities are often not understood or tested, with most business decision-makers only acting after an attack has occurred. Surfsharks’s 2023 Cybersecurity Report showed that South Africa is the 8th most-targeted country in the world for ransomware attacks and it ranks 5th on the global cybercrime density list – with the onslaught of attacks only set to increase.

“The key to being one of the least targeted and least affected lies in thorough preparation for cyberattacks,” explains Kevin Wotshela, Managing Director of Magix, a South African cyber security and compliance service.

Comprehensive cybersecurity strategy for corporations should include crucial components such as Penetration Testing, Vulnerability Assessments, XDR (Threat Detection and Response), User Awareness Training, Third-Party Risk Management, and Identity & Access Management. Regular examination of these components is vital to prevent cyberattacks and minimize the impact in case of a breach.

According to the VEEAM 2023 Data Protection Trends Report, while overall IT spending is expected to grow between 4.5% and 5.4% in 2023, respondents anticipated a 5.6% increase in preventative cybersecurity budgets and a 5.5% increase in data protection (remediation) budgets.

Wotshela stresses the need for spending to outpace the growth of cybersecurity threats by a significant margin.

To enhance system security and proactively defend against cyberattacks, companies of all sizes can implement the following key interventions:

Penetration Testing and Vulnerability Assessments: These measures help identify weaknesses and vulnerabilities in an organization’s systems, networks, and applications. Organizations can identify and address security flaws before attackers can exploit them through regular assessments.

XDR (Threat Detection and Response) solutions: These solutions enable organizations to detect and respond to advanced threats across multiple security domains, including endpoints, networks, and cloud environments. By integrating and correlating data from various sources, organizations can enhance visibility into potential security incidents and promptly mitigate risks.

User Awareness Training: Educating employees about cybersecurity best practices, such as recognizing phishing emails, using strong passwords, and handling sensitive data cautiously, is crucial. Well-trained employees are less likely to fall victim to social engineering attacks and serve as an additional layer of defense against cyber threats.

Third-Party Risk Management: Organizations often rely on external vendors, suppliers, or service providers who may have access to their systems or data. Assessing the security practices of third parties allows organizations to identify potential risks and implement appropriate measures to mitigate them, reducing the likelihood of a security breach stemming from third-party relationships.

–  Identity & Access Management (IAM):  plays a critical role in ensuring that only authorized individuals have access to an organization’s resources. By implementing IAM practices, corporations can enforce robust authentication mechanisms, manage user roles and permissions, and streamline the user lifecycle management process. This proactive approach reduces the risk of unauthorized access and enhances overall security.

To enhance resilience against cyber threats, organizations must make significant improvements in each of these crucial components and consistently monitor them at the highest level.

By implementing robust cybersecurity measures, businesses of all sizes can bolster their resilience against cyber threats, protect sensitive data, ensure regulatory compliance, and safeguard their reputation. Effective cybersecurity measures also demonstrate a commitment to maintaining a strong security posture, which helps build trust among customers, partners, and stakeholders.

By Kevin Wothsela, Magix Managing Director.

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