2018 became the year of high profile data breaches, with Marriott, Facebook and Quora all affected. The problem is a global one, and as such, Africa is not untouched. Within the last month, South African experts Foregenix found that 88% of African Magento websites are at ‘high or critical risk’ of criminal activity. As one of the most popular e-commerce sites on the continent and a host to many developing businesses, these aren’t inconsequential findings.
To protect the prosperity of African businesses and the security of private citizens’ governments must take action. Following key trends in data security set to develop through 2019 will be key, as will building awareness. Promisingly, some countries are already taking note.Developing new physical security
Smart technology is flourishing across Africa. Quartz estimate that, by 2023, over a billion South-Saharan Africans will have a smartphone. As a result, usage of digital storage technologies – the cloud, and so on – is developing rapidly. What shouldn't be discounted is the benefits of physical security; governments aren’t, as evidenced by the new Parklands Data Centre opened in South Africa. When it comes to consumer data security, it’s beneficial for people to look towards external drives and SD cards. By utilizing these devices to backup data from mobile phones, laptops and tablets, an extra layer of security can be provided to give recourse in the case of identity theft and the like.Encouraging companies to uptake principles
Helping consumers to shield themselves against cybercrime is important but only one aspect of answering the question. Arguably, businesses must do the most to protect themselves from crime; this is plainly obvious from the numbers associated with crime; Ivorian analysts Talentys estimate that cybersecurity breaches cost US$1.2m per attack. This has widespread implications; rampant cyber crime reduces investor confidence in countries, damaging business prospects.
According to Talentys, the key is investment. Spending a percentage of revenue and directing it towards data security will be notably important in creating a safe environment. From here, businesses can continue to seek investment and create growth.Looking to government action
Ultimately, the cybersecurity buck stops with the government. As the ultimate owners of the land and infrastructure – regardless of the tendering process – they have oversight with regards to the internet network in any given country. This can be achieved through international cooperation.
In August, Kenya announced plans to partner with the United Kingdom to build a cybersecurity centre in Nairobi. This cooperative venture aims to bring an added level of data security to Kenya and help the country to pre-empt threats against foreign countries. As another key focus, it would aim to help reduce child exploitation through empowering police digital capabilities. This is one example of how government work can benefit cyber and data security and, in the process, bring about a wider range of benefits.
Cybersecurity is a pressing concern globally and it's no different across Africa. Tackling cyber crime effectively will lead to more investment and a greater quality of life for members of the public across the continent. Key among this is data security, and intervention from big business and government.
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