Businesses in South Africa need to act fast to defend against increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks


By Greg Griessel, Consulting Systems Engineer Security Solutions, Cisco South Africa

There has been no better time for The South African Department of Justice and Constitutional Development to release their draft Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill for public comment. 2015 has seen a spate of cyber-attacks as cybercriminals continue to perfect their ability to innovate rapidly and enhance their capacity to compromise systems and evade detection. The legislative undertaking is therefore indicative of South Africa’s mental shift towards greater cybercrime awareness.

The 2015 CISCO midyear report into cyber security demonstrates a variety of cyber threat challenges faced by South African businesses today. Amongst the tactics used by cybercriminals is the increased usage of macros involving Microsoft Office as well as the exploitation of Adobe Flash and Java.  Cybercriminals are also taking an artful approach. Exploit kit authors are incorporating text from Jane Austin’s classic novel Sense and Sensibility into web landing pages that host their exploit kits. Antivirus and other security solutions are more likely to categorize these pages as legitimate after “reading” such text.

The report also showed that cybercriminals are becoming increasingly resourceful in remaining undetected. Criminals are turning to the anonymous web network Tor and the Invisible Internet Project (I2P) to relay command-and-control communications while evading detection. Malware authors are also increasing their use of techniques such as sandbox detection to conceal their presence on networks.

It is clear that in the current zeitgeist, the innovation race between adversaries and security vendors is only accelerating, and organizations are at risk of becoming more vulnerable to attack if they sit back and watch. At Cisco, we are committed to developing integrated security solutions that help organisations to be proactive in the fight against cybercrime.
In order to overcome the fragmented challenges in our dynamic threat landscape, businesses require a four tier security strategy to manage risk. Firstly organisations require integrated threat defence architecture that embeds security at all touch points. Secondly they must invest in effective, sustainable and trusted security solutions and professional services. Thirdly, a collaborative, multi-stakeholder cyber governance framework is required to sustain business innovation and economic growth on a global stage. Last, but not least, organisations should demand that their technology vendors are transparent and able to demonstrate the security they build into their products in order to be considered trustworthy.

Cisco’s threat-centric and operationalised approach to security means organisations can reduce complexity and fragmentation, intelligently defend against cybersecurity threats, fill the talent shortage, manager operational risks and take advantage of new digital business models securely.

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