In recent years, South Africa has seen a significant increase in cyber-attacks, with notable incidents affecting various sectors of the economy. Ransomware attacks, which were globally prevalent in 2017, hit several South African organisations, including Telkom, the Office of the Chief Justice, and Tracker, among others. ASUS has provided a solution to these issues which have been detailed below.
The City of Johannesburg also suffered two high-profile cyber incidents in 2019. First, in July 2019, a ransomware attack affected City Power, and in October 2019, a network breach was detected after a ransom note was received from a group called the Shadow Kill hackers. Both cyber incidents caused downtime to several customer-facing systems. Following the breach at CoJ, the South African Bank Risk Information Centre (SABRIC) confirmed that the banking sector had been targeted by a wave of distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks
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The COVID-19 pandemic further compounded the situation, creating new opportunities for attackers to exploit. For instance, an accidental data leak in May 2020, caused by changes to the Unemployment Insurance Fund (UIF) website, exposed employers’ confidential information [Source: Business Insider]. Additionally, the second-largest private hospital operator in South Africa, Life Healthcare Group, fell victim to a cyberattack, while Experian, a credit bureau agency, suffered a massive data breach that affected millions of South Africans
The trend continued into 2021, with Transnet, the South African state-owned rail, port, and pipeline company, suffering a large-scale cyberattack that cybersecurity experts described as an act of “cyber warfare” [Source: CNN]. Shortly thereafter, the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development also confirmed a security breach resulting from ransomware
These incidents have highlighted the need for a robust digital immune system to protect South African businesses and organisations from cyber threats.
Strengthen your defences
A digital immune system (DIS) is a critical component of a robust digital defence that protects applications and services from various anomalies, such as software bugs or security issues. It combines a range of practices and technologies from software design, development, automation, operations, and analytics to create a superior user experience and reduce system failures that can impact business performance.
The DIS is designed to neutralise defects, threats, and system vulnerabilities to mitigate business risks and enhance the overall customer experience. With a DIS, applications are more resilient, recovering quickly from failures to reduce business continuity risks.
Nearly half of the respondents in a recent Gartner survey stated that their primary objective for digital investments is to improve the customer experience, and the DIS will be critical to ensuring that CX isn’t compromised by defects, system failures, or anomalies. Gartner predicts that by 2025, organisations investing in building digital immunity will increase customer satisfaction by decreasing downtime by 80%.
Tips for boosting your Digital Immune System
Tech companies and hardware manufacturers often build robust security features into their devices, both on a hardware and software level. But there are additional tools and features that can be used to ensure even more security.
Many business notebooks have physical protections built-in, including the Trusted Platform Module (TPM) chip, which provides cryptographic technology to secure key hardware components. The TPM enhances computer security and privacy by protecting data through encryption and decryption, authentication credentials, and proving which software is running on a system.
When combined with Windows’ BitLocker encryption, the entire hard drive can be encrypted to protect sensitive data. BitLocker can also encrypt removable drives, such as USB sticks. Some models feature an NFC reader, which allows users to sign in with a physical security key by tapping it on the device’s touchpad. Fingerprint sensors provide a safer and faster way to sign in and can integrate with Windows Hello.
To ensure even more security, it’s essential to keep all software and firmware up to date and to use complex passwords or passphrases that are unique to each account. Two-factor authentication, where a password is combined with a one-time code sent to a phone or email, adds another layer of security. Public Wi-Fi networks should be avoided, as they can be easily compromised. If they must be used, a virtual private network (VPN) should be used to encrypt internet traffic.
An essential tool for IT teams
It’s important to be vigilant and to report any suspicious activity to IT or security personnel immediately. Regular training on best security practices can help prevent accidental security breaches. Business laptops are the property of the organisation and are the responsibility of the IT department to ensure their security.
To help with this, ASUS offers the Control Centre, which gives the IT team complete control over the setup, deployment, and maintenance of the laptop. This tool also enables the IT department to take remote emergency actions in case of unexpected crises, such as performing an encrypted disk wipe to remove all sensitive information. It’s crucial to understand how to keep your business and personal files secure in your notebook, no matter where you are. The Control Centre can assist in ensuring that security protocols are followed, giving peace of mind to both the company and the user.
Building a digital immune system can mitigate the risks of system failures, anomalies, and threats, ultimately improving your customer’s experience. By staying vigilant, following best practices, and using the available tools and technologies, local businesses can protect themselves against cyber threats and safeguard their operations and the personal information of their clients.