While many businesses feel that they aren’t vulnerable or targets to cyberattacks, the reality is that with the increasing reliance on digital and tech-based systems, South African companies are very-much at risk of digital theft and damage.

According to PwC’s 23rd Annual Globe CEO Survey, only 12% of local mining CEOs were concerned about cyberattacks, whereas the global percentage of concerned CEOs sits about 32%. There is clearly a lack of concern from South African businesses, which could have detrimental effects to their operations.

The more digitally connected companies are, the more vulnerable they are to cyberattacks. For example, in the mining industry (an otherwise traditionally ‘analogue’ process), more and more automated and connected operational technologies (OTs) are being used. This simplifies their process, but inadvertently creates access points from criminals. Hackers can even access these businesses from a supplier, as the mining company could be using an outsourced system with weak cybersecurity. While this sounds like something out of a James Bond movie, it could very-much happen and have dire consequences.

In 2018, a hacking group gained access to the machinery in a petrochemical company in Saudi Arabia. In an attempt to sabotage the company, the hackers tried to trigger an explosion. Thankfully, a fault in the code prevented them, but if they were successful, lives could’ve been lost. This was just one of many cyberattacks that take place in the petrochemical industry.

Another concern is the visibility of cyberattacks. On average, most companies only realise that they’ve been compromised 200 days after the initial hack, and 70 days to contain the attack. This is a tremendously long time for someone to have access to your systems.

This is why spend has increased in the cybersecurity space dramatically in the past few years, with $101 billion in 2017 growing to $124 billion in 2019; which has helped curb attacks.

SO, WHAT CAN YOU AND YOUR COMPANY DO?

Readiness and foresight are your best defences against cybercrime. Crisis-simulation exercises are a great way to train and educate you team on how to manage an attempted cyber attack situation, and this should be implemented right through a team, from the security to the general staff.

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