Last year’s cybercrime and data breaches cannot be a regular occurrence, experts say

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Research by technology company IBM shows that the average data breach in the country costs R36.5 million. Photo: iStock
Research by technology company IBM shows that the average data breach in the country costs R36.5 million. Photo: iStock


The Southern African Fraud Prevention Service (SAFPS) will hold a fraud summit on Thursday to highlight the need for protecting data after major data breaches rocked South Africa over the past two years.

According to a study by Surfshark – which offers virtual private network services, data leak detection systems and private search tools – the country ranks sixth in the world in terms of nations most threatened by cybercrime.

Research by technology company IBM shows that the average data breach in the country costs R36.5 million.

“The long tail costs of a data breach can be felt for years after the incident,” Manie van Schalkwyk, CEO of SAFPS, said.

“The SAFPS cannot stress enough how severe these data breaches are and how they turn consumers’ lives upside down.”

The livelihood of South Africans is at stake. It is important that we start taking active steps to address these risks.

Van Schalkwyk added that financial institutions were massive targets for cybercriminals because of the information that they hold.

In March, credit reporting agency TransUnion SA was hit by hacker group N4aughtysecTU. The attack impacted more than 3 million South Africans, with the group demanding R225 million ransom for the compromised data, which the group claimed included ID numbers and banking details.

In September last year, African Bank confirmed that Debt-IN, one of its appointed professional debt recovery partners, was targeted by cybercriminals in April. The debt collection company’s 1.4 million consumers’ personal data were compromised, including several African Bank loan customers under debt review.

“The protection of personal information is becoming a major issue. Consumers need to know that the information that they hand over to banks and other financial institutions will be handled responsibly and that the data leaks that we experienced last year cannot be a regular occurrence,” Van Schalkwyk said.


According to Dalene Deale, executive head of identity management platform Secure Citizen, one of the best ways to prevent a person or business from becoming a victim of cybercrime is through the secure use of biometric technology.

According to a report by Yahoo Finance, companies such as Google, Apple and Microsoft agree that this is the way to go.

Through the Fast Identity Online (Fido) alliance, an association focused on providing open and free authentication standards to help reduce the world’s reliance on passwords, the companies will soon allow users to ditch passwords – often the weakest link in cyber security – for using their phones to authenticate themselves.

READ: Your personal information is never safe

“The idea is for you to register your identity via your smartphone using its facial recognition, fingerprint ID or your passcode. Once you’ve stored your identity on your phone, it stays there. From then on, you’ll be able to log into websites and apps that use Fido’s standard by entering your username and then using your phone to tell the app or site that you’re you,” the report said.

“By using biometrics, we’ve made fraud prevention convenient, easy to use and cost-effective. It is every consumer’s right to use their biometrics to verify themselves, and now businesses can afford to implement it to protect themselves and the customers they serve, regardless of their size,” Deale said.

The summit will be chaired by Jane Dutton, with Clem Sumter delivering the keynote address.

David Pegley, the CEO of the Australian Financial Crimes Exchange, will also address the summit to discuss a “new world” which requires new measures and collaboration to manage evolving criminal activity.


Sthembiso Lebuso 


+27 11 713 9001
69 Kingsway Rd, Auckland Park

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