Cybersecurity professionals from the public and private sectors as well as academia have joined forces to establish the Cybersecurity Digital Alliance.
This is an industry body dedicated to creating a safer digital environment through policy advisory and support, mentorship, education and best practice sharing, and research.
“Addressing cybersecurity in a hyper-connected digital world requires collective commitment and action – and the Cybersecurity Digital Alliance was born from the recognition that we can achieve more if we use a pool of talent and shared experiences to enable a more cyber secure South Africa,” says Kerissa Varma, chairperson of the Cybersecurity Digital Alliance and managing executive for cybersecurity at Vodacom.
The definition and scope of cybersecurity continues to expand as the cyber-risk landscape evolves rapidly, with more sophisticated attack vectors from a greater number of bad actors – intensified by changes to modern workplaces and lifestyles, which have created a wider and deeper security threat landscape than ever before.
“Research widely shows that cyber crime has become more prevalent in South Africa since the onset of the pandemic and the widespread move to working, learning and transacting online,” says Mandla Ngcobo, deputy director-general: CIO at the Department of Public Service and Administration and founding member of the Cybersecurity Digital Alliance. The country, for example, suffers at least 577 malware attacks per hour – and this is only one of a myriad of emerging threats including ransomware, phishing and denial-of-service attacks.
“There can be no doubt then that cybersecurity truly sits at the forefront of every organisation and industry in today’s world,” says Ngcobo. This makes it vital for cybersecurity leaders from across sectors to bring their skills and expertise together to assist with the complex modern digital environment and ensure the safety of public and private sector organisations, as well as South African citizens.
The Cybersecurity Digital Alliance will aim to do this by: supporting policy interventions and innovation around relevant national guidelines, regulations, strategies, legislation and laws surrounding technology use, facilitating best practice sharing from across different backgrounds, skillsets and specialisations, educating and driving research into developing areas, as well as providing mentorship to members.
Providing support and enabling access to critical education and mentorship in this space is central to the ability to drive and adapt policies and cybersecurity controls where it is needed most.
“Being a member, and able to both contribute to and benefit from collaboration and knowledge sharing in cybersecurity education, research and policy support, is essential to meeting the goal of actively shaping the cybersecurity space in South Africa,” says Siya Madyibi, executive director: corporate, external and legal affairs (CELA) at Microsoft South Africa.
“Proactive support and partnerships will ensure that everyone can benefit from digital technology capabilities and the opportunities they present in allowing people to interact, engage, transact, work and learn, and in driving economic growth and prosperity for South Africa as a whole.”