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PublicSec Cybersecurity Summit: Insights and Collaborations

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Vusi Melane
Vusi Melane
Staff Writer

IT News Africa recently hosted the annual Public Sector Cybersecurity Summit at the Gallagher Convention Centre in Midrand, drawing a crowd of industry players and service providers. The event featured a line-up of 10 experts from both the IT industry and government who delivered keynote addresses on various cybersecurity challenges facing the public sector.

Among the topics discussed were managing cybersecurity risks and compliance requirements, the importance of identity security strategies, addressing critical infrastructure vulnerabilities, and leveraging AI for cyber defense. Speakers emphasized the need for collaboration between service providers and government agencies to effectively combat cyber threats.


Abdul Gabier, Deputy Director for ICT at the Cape Winelands District Municipality, underscored the importance of compliance in managing cybersecurity, noting the transition from ICT to cyber in government. “In managing cybersecurity, compliance is a cornerstone. In government, the transition has to be from ICT to Cyber,” he said.

Brendon Meyer, Senior Solutions Engineer at BeyondTrust, highlighted the evolving nature of cyber threats and the need for a comprehensive identity-first security strategy. “Evolution – Identity first security. This involves human, software, and hardware elements. Hackers are looking for all pieces of information from these elements and from everywhere. Identity is linked to everything – Banking, Employment, Ownership, etc.,” he added. “Threat Evolution. We’ve worked with Microsoft for over ten years and were able to come up with a report on critical vulnerabilities.”

Future Landscape of Cybersecurity in the Public Sector

Panel discussions focused on the future landscape of cybersecurity in the public sector, with speakers emphasizing the importance of business identities and the need for policies informed by global standards such as GDPR and POPIA. “Regarding the future in terms of Cyber Security, the focus should be around Business Identities – Entrepreneurs, Businesspeople, and Citizens of our country. Identity has always been a challenge in our country,” said the panel through the submissions. “Regarding policies, as an example, we can learn how POPIA has adopted many policies from GDPR.”

Varsha Sewlal, Executive Legal & Deputy Information Officer for the Railway Safety Regulator, emphasized the need for proactive defense strategies to protect critical infrastructure from cyber-attacks. “Today’s presentation on Critical Infrastructure & Cyber Attacks underscores a crucial reality: as we digitize, vulnerabilities increase. From transportation to water supply, our government systems face unprecedented threats. It’s time for proactive, robust defense strategies.” “But action is also important, not just talk. In South Africa, we excel in policy development but struggle with implementation. Bridging this gap is crucial to safeguarding our nation’s digital assets and infrastructure,” she concluded.

Jacobus Valentine, Chief Commercial Officer at Global Command & Control Technologies, called attention to the urgent need for cybersecurity measures in the face of ongoing cyber warfare. “South Africa is in a Cyber Warfare, whether we acknowledge it or not. This reality is here to stay. It’s time to elevate Cyber Security education and fortify our sovereignty as a nation,” he said.

Glenn Lazarus, CEO for ATS Network Management, highlighted the high cost of cyber-attacks and urged companies to prioritize cybersecurity to protect their digital assets. “South Africa’s cybersecurity breach average cost skyrocketed to R50,000,000 in 2023! Protect your digital assets now.” “Comparing cybersecurity to a Sunday treat at the Mall of Africa? Some companies need a reality check. Don’t play games with your cyber defenses!” he said.

Uniting Against Cybercrime: A Call to Action

Irene Moetsana-Moeng, Executive Director and Head for Public Sector Agency, stressed the importance of collaboration in cybersecurity resilience, emphasizing the need to empower employees with the skills to make informed decisions. “On Stakeholders in Cybersecurity, Collaborative Defense for Cybersecurity Resilience. Empowering employees with cyberattack judgment is just as crucial as educating them about potential threats. It’s not just about awareness; it’s about equipping them with the skills to make informed decisions,” she said.

“No entity can combat Cyber Attacks alone. There is no resistance without collaboration. We need to foster collaboration,” said Moetsana-Moeng.

Craig Rosewarne, MD for Wolfpack Information Risk, called for unity in combating cybercrime and invited young South Africans to join the fight through a Cybercrime Investigations Training Programme. “Let’s unite in the battle against Cybercrime – Safeguarding our communities, businesses & nation. Our Cybercrime Investigations Training Programme seeks passionate young South Africans to join the fight. Interns to Analysts – step up for cybersecurity in Public Safety.”

Zeshan Sattar, Senior Director of Industry Relations for COMPTIA, emphasized the need for advanced skills in cybersecurity to meet industry expectations. “Many issues drive Cybersecurity concerns. Delving into the heart of cybersecurity, we need to understand the multifaceted skill requirements and ever-evolving industry expectations,” he said.

Harnessing AI for Cyber Attack & Defense

Dr. Nishal Khusial, Director of Technology for Imperium Advisory, highlighted the role of AI in cyber-attack and defense, urging cybersecurity professionals to stay ahead by constantly learning and innovating. “Leveraging AI for Cyber Attack & Defense: As cybersecurity professionals, the depth of our knowledge & expertise is critical. In an ever-evolving landscape, staying ahead demands constant learning and innovative approaches. Let’s harness AI to fortify our defenses and combat threats effectively,” said Dr. Khusial.

Overall, the summit provided valuable insights into the current cybersecurity landscape and the importance of collaboration, advanced skills, and proactive defense strategies in safeguarding public sector infrastructure against cyber threats.

 

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