South Africa’s leading telecommunication operators, including MTN SA, Vodacom, Telkom SA, Cell C and Liquid Intelligent Technologies have joined forces to establish a non-profit organisation, the Communication Risk Information Centre (COMRiC), which seeks to better protect their network investments and advance the country’s participation in the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
COMRiC will primarily focus on the sector’s collective identification, mitigation and prevention of the common risk issues within the industry with a key focus for 2022 centred on critical infrastructure network vandalism, commercial crimes and cyber security.
Vernall Muller, COMRiC’s Chief Executive Officer, says, “The formation of COMRiC has enabled formal discussion and solution finding between operators to handle the risks they face. It has also created a platform through which we will engage society on issues of related crime and support Government in the overall fight against crime in South Africa.”
Muller says that noticeably, over the last two years especially, the criminal gaze has shifted to the South African telecommunications operators. The economic impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the advent of load-shedding and related power cuts are factors that have contributed to this upsurge, believes Muller.
“Telecommunications infrastructure which is the backbone of the information age is particularly vulnerable to attack and this escalating crime has translated into loss of service and network integrity,” says Muller.
Collaboration between SA’s Network operators, to fight theft and network infrastructure vandalism, has resulted in the establishment of the Critical Infrastructure Monitoring Operations Centre (CiMOC) that operates under the newly formed COMRiC structure.
The CiMOC will prioritise the collective monitoring of critical network infrastructure theft and vandalism across the combined South African telco network footprint. This includes working closely with the SAPS to identify and apprehend suspects in network vandalism, store robberies, battery theft and fraudulent application scenarios including commercial crimes among other things.
Muller says, “The industry recognises that criminals do not discriminate when it comes to which network, they target. As such, collective working as the Telecommunication Industry provides benefits in terms of risk management for all operators irrespective of market share. The opportunity exists for creating a safer environment that may lead to uninterrupted customer experience in the telecommunication space.”