Cyber attackers lurk in the shadows wielding the ability to hit governments where it hurts the most. Shutterstock
Cyber attackers lurk in the shadows wielding the ability to hit governments where it hurts the most. Shutterstock

By Staff Writer

In this hyper-connected world, security attacks like WannaCry and Nyetya are a fact of life, a new report concluded.

South Africa is also negatively impacted by cyber crime.

“Cyber crime is now the fourth most reported economic crime in South Africa, with our economy reportedly losing R1 billion each year due to online criminal activities. Being breached is the new normal,” says Cathy Smith, MD of Cisco Southern Africa.

“We are also aware that security is a business priority, with many executives feeling overwhelmed by the defender environment and citing certification and talent as two of the biggest constraints to adopting advanced products and solutions.

Cisco today released the 2017 Midyear Cybersecurity Report which for the first time includes findings related to various sectors such as Financial Services, Health, Manufacturing, Transport, and Retail.

“It’s no longer a matter of if these attacks will happen, but when. We hope with the launch of the Cybersecurity Experience Centre and Academy, Cisco can assist businesses to overcome some of the security challenges they face, especially in the skills space,” said Smith.

South Africa’s unpreparedness to deal with cyber crime was also highlighted this week by the Minister of Telecommunications and Postal Services, Siyabonga Cwele.

Speaking at Sita e-Government Industry Day on Wednesday, Cwele said: “We must develop a critical mass of cyber security experts for the defense of our government information systems.”

He added that the country needs to train more people to be experts in cyber security.

“This security by design must include a functional model for personal data protection. Without effective and functional personal data protection, we would find our citizens being very reluctant to use our systems. This year, we must come up with clear and implementable plans for a system that is secure by design,” said Cwele.

Globally, there were more than a million job openings in cyber security in 2016 and the demand for cyber security experts has grown three times faster than any other IT role.

Cisco said on Thursday that the shortage of cybersecurity professionals threatens both the private and public sectors in attempts to defend against the relentless evolution of cyber crime and shifting attack modes.

These trends provide both a challenge and an opportunity for South Africa and the continent.

Cisco said it is against this backdrop that today it launched a Cybersecurity Experience Centre and Academy at its Johannesburg office.

The Centre is an immersive environment where both public and private sector stakeholders will be exposed to some of the most up to date trends in cyber threats from around the world, and be provided with the necessary skills, knowledge, and insights into some of the technology and expertise required to fight the scourge of cybercrime.

letters Cisco on a wall
Amsterdam, Netherlands-august 14, 2016: letters Cisco on a wall (Photo Credit: www.shutterstock.com)

Addressing the cyber security skills shortage

The Centre also incorporates an Academy which will offer a MICT-SETA funded certified Cybersecurity training programme, of which Cisco will provide the content and facility, and NIL – an authorized Cisco Learning Specialised Partner – will facilitate the training.

The first intake will be for 36 unemployed early career learners with a matric certificate with Maths and an IT subject. Unemployed candidates of the same early career status who have attended a college and completed a Comptia or similar entry level IT short course will also be considered.

The programme will include both classroom and workplace experiential learning to understand the South African ICT security environment in the context of Global network security and upon passing the exam, they will receive an internationally recognized certificate

“Cisco Certified CCNA Cyber Ops certification” which will be valid for three years. It is estimated that the course is worth between R60k-R70k per learner.

“South African organisations are looking to improve security engineering capabilities to prevent increasing attacks on their networks. This educational program will help to address the security ICT skills shortage in the country,” says Karen Sharpe who is the head of learning at NIL.

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