Govt to finalise cyber security policy

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Johannesburg - The government wants to step up its fight against cybercrime as it plans to finalise a cyber security policy this year.

At a media briefing on the State Security Ministry’s 2015/16 Budget Vote on Tuesday, Minister David Mahlobo released a statement that partly outlined a plan to tackle cybercrime.

His statement highlighted how international terrorism and globalisation have resulted in softening of borders but he also went on to highlight several plans his ministry has around cyber security.

The minister said that in this financial year 2015/16, the ministry plans to “enhance” the institutional cyber security capacity, finalise the national cyber security policy, present the Cyber Security Bill before Cabinet, launch a public awareness campaign around cyber threats and cyber security, and strengthen its cooperation with bodies such as the Southern African Development Community (SADC).

“As people we must recognise that (a) cyber security system’s success depends on understanding the safety of the whole system, not merely protecting its individual parts,” said the ministry.

“Consequently cybercrime and cyber-terrorism must be fought on the personal, social, and political fronts as well as the electronic front.

“As part of our plans, we will be working with universities and other research institutes to build the cyber security pipeline through competitive scholarship, fellowship and internship programmes to attract top talent and develop systems that have command and control in our hands,” the ministry added.

In 2014, South African businesses lost an estimated R5.8bn to cybercrime, according to underwriter Candice Sutherland.

Sutherland told Fin24 earlier this year that cyber threats that SA businesses face include the likes of disgruntled employees, organisational negligence, rivals and hackers.

The ministry, though, is also focusing on other aspects of cyber security such as children’s safety online.

In its statement, the ministry said it plans to study how to supervise “children’s online activity, without impacting on their rights to privacy”.

The ministry raised this issue after mentioning in its statement how a 15-year-old girl was reportedly lured into terror group ISIS (Islamic State) over the internet. The girl, though, was stopped from making an attempt to travel to Syria.

“As we have indicated, there is a global trend of online recruitment which targets mainly young people active on social media platforms,” said the ministry.

“We reiterate our message to the broader society to be vigilant and exercise caution when engaging in various platforms provided in cyberspace,” added the ministry.

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