Increased digitisation by companies in order to cut costs and streamline operations can have the opposite effect if cyber risks are not managed. This is according to Charl Ueckermann, managing director of AVeS Cyber Security.
As part of its medium-term budget released in October, the National Treasury has revised South Africa’s 2016 growth forecast from 0.9% to 0.5%. This knowledge puts additional pressure on businesses to reduce costs and maintain a competitive edge at a time when many sectors are experiencing a decline in growth.
“In these competitive times, businesses have no choice but to embrace the digital world, and use technology to stay ahead. With streamlined processes such as cloud-based storage, data management systems and powerful financial software, businesses are able to be more productive and efficient, and ultimately – reduce their costs and drive growth,” says Ueckermann.
“However, while technology means better functionality and more profit, it also means that companies are more susceptible to cyber threats,” comments Ueckermann.
“In the virtual world, threats come quickly – and often with devastating effects,” says Ueckermann. “System failures, cyber-attacks, data corruption, leaking or loss, interruption to supply chains and so on, can do severe damage to a business,” continues Ueckermann. “These threats not only have an impact on cost structures, but also impact customers and the trust customers have in organisations. The overall impact on reputation, brand and the ability of a business to grow can be catastrophic.
“This means that along with all the advantages of utilising technology, comes a responsibility to ensure that the very systems put in place to assist businesses are themselves not putting the business at risk.
“Digital risk has therefore become a business issue, rather than merely an IT issue. It’s vital that all businesses take an active interest in understanding and managing cyber risk as a part of their overall business strategy,” says Ueckermann.
Ueckermann further explains that while companies are generally well equipped to deal with traditional threats to their businesses, few organisations are fully equipped to tackle evolving cyber security threats.
“The digital revolution and the interconnectivity of digital systems has increased the network effects that cyber threats can have. The speed at which threats can occur and the overall impact they can have has grown exponentially,” Ueckermann says, which is why it’s essential to partner with technology providers who specialise in this area and who can offer expert advice and cost effective cyber risk solutions.
“Cyber risk solutions include vulnerability assessments and penetration tests; security architecture; the protection of servers, PCs, laptops and Point-of-Sale (POS) systems through technologies such as anti-virus, anti-spyware, firewalls, encryption and intrusion protection; and database security, which protects data from unauthorised access, alteration and disclosure, and ensures that information is accessible and usable when needed.”
Ueckermann says that by being able to anticipate cyber security threats and having a workable plan in place, companies will be able to pinpoint critical digital vulnerabilities and strengthen their defences to protect their systems more effectively.
“In this way, businesses can ensure that technology does what it’s meant to – solve business needs and drive growth.”