Enacy Mapakame-Business Reporter
Zimbabwe should increase investment into cyber security systems in light of growing cyber-crimes and increased use of digital platforms by Government, businesses, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and individuals, experts have said.
Cyber security risks in the country are on the increase with 82 percent of businesses saying they experienced attacks last year as cyber-criminals took advantage of growing use of digital platforms to conduct business to attack the supporting infrastructures.
The use of multiple devices from various locations on different networks as people work from home are also exposing businesses to cyber security threats such as data breaches.
Liquid Intelligent Technologies regional chief executive officer for the southern African region Wellington Makamure acknowledged that growing technology has come with benefits but now also poses serious threats to businesses, especially in the financial services sector where nearly all transactions are now done digitally.
But as the country moves more towards being a cashless society, the financial services sector is also facing growing risk of cybercrime, including phishing and bank card cloning.
“In our ever-increasingly connected world, cyber security should be at the centre of every conversation. Protection from online threats should be top of mind,” said Mr Makamure.
“The continent boasts rapidly growing mobile and internet networks. On top of that, online financial services are used more widely in Africa than anywhere else in the world — this is particularly true in Zimbabwe, where 96 percent of all financial transactions are conducted online.
“However, due to low investment in cyber security measures and a widespread lack of understanding about the potential dangers of conducting business, administrative and personal activities online, many sectors in Africa are targets for cybercriminals — Government, telecoms, education, health, finance, and SMEs among them,” he said.
Research findings show that the state of the threats in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, the most common cyber security threats cited are malware, web-application attacks, email phishing and impersonation, identity theft, data breaches and denial of services.
Mr Makamure added: “At the highest level, employers and officials need to rethink their perceptions about cyber security. They need to recognise the dangers cybercrime can pose to their organisations and their dependants in both the public and private sectors and move to limit them.
“Beyond installing measures such as secure email, firewalls for network perimeter defence, end-point-protection (anti-virus software such as Microsoft Defender) and zero-trust-networks to ensure consumers and other outside users can access information safely, they need to rethink the role of IT and partners who can help them mitigate cyber-attacks. A complete 360-degree review of cyber security is needed to increase knowledge of how to combat cybercriminals.”
As part of initiatives to reduce the prevalence of cyber security threats in organisations, Liquid is engaged in various programmes providing education on cyber-crime through simulated attacks, webinars and tests.
“Arming everyone against the possibility of cybercrime and alerting them to the methods criminals use limits the damage they can cause to the country’s economic and societal growth,” said Mr Makamure.