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Increased cyber security threats have forced a ‘safety at all costs’ – thanks to Covid-19

While South Africa is still grappling to contain the spread of the global pandemic, a post Covid-19 world is being paved, driven mainly by the use of digital technology. The Coronavirus has created a fundamental change in the way we live, work and relate to each other.

Since the implementation of the national lockdown measures, which placed a mandatory restriction on movement of people, goods and services – South Africans, in particular the business community was forced into adapting. Most of the enterprises that couldn’t adapt had to rely on government relief packages, with some sadly going out of businesses.

The lockdown period, especially under alert level 5 saw many people bound indoors, glued to their cellphones and computers, trying to earn a living – while others merely attempting to kill time. Meanwhile, children who are at school-going age, had to, perhaps for the first time, interact with the teachers and school mates from the other side of the screen. For the teacher, this may have been a welcomed relief, especially not having to shout at Sipho and John who are always making noise from the back of the class. But for learners, it has been a frightening change, with some children reportedly having withdrawal symptoms.

According to a report from the World Economic Forum (WEF) report, the spread of the virus might have just given countries the necessary push to start embracing the fourth industrial revolution. “It is a new chapter in human development, enabled by extraordinary technology advances commensurate with those of the first, second and third industrial revolutions.” The WEF says these advances are merging the physical, digital and biological worlds in ways that create both huge promise and potential peril.

Now with all the beneficial attributes that come with the use of digital technology, the biggest challenge of the cyber space has been security. Some cyber security experts say shortly after the announcement of the lockdown, they noticed a sharp increase in cybercrime activities such as phishing, carding and ransomware, amongst others.

As Sasria, we believe that planning and anticipating the change of the workplace enabled us to be futuristic in our approach. At the heart of any adaptive strategy should lie a dedicated workforce that will ensure that new methods are implemented, accordingly. We for instance, have invested in digital technologies, replacing the old systems long before the pandemic hit the globe.

Thus, we urge companies to protect themselves against rampant cyber scams by updating their systems and educating their employees.

South African businesses have lost over R2-billion in the previous financial year, according to the South African Banking Risk Information Centre (SABRIC).

SABRIC says the country has the third-highest number of cybercrime victims worldwide.

And so, as the use of digital technology for work and school becomes the new normal, extreme caution ought to be exercised by all users.

‘Safety first’ approach has by far been the lesson that businesses and all other sectors including education, religious, entertainment and many others have had to learn as we phenomenally increased our adoption of digital technology use thanks to Covid-19.

Giant search company, Google – in a report issued last month said, it has been blocking over 240 million Covid19-themed spam messages each day, and 18 million malware and phishing emails. Google said those figures highlight the scale of threats piggy-backing on widespread public awareness and an appetite for information about the pandemic.

The disruption to normalcy by the pandemic has been enormous and people have had to adapt to many new ways. This adaptation is important for business continuity not only for our clients but also for sustainability through seamless business processes and systems.

Our long-term plans is to develop digital product extensions, expanding to new channels to enable new business models to increase business resilience and prepare for growth.

The future of business has been altered forever by this pandemic and ours is to adapt. This will require Sasria and all the other companies to adequately prepare for cyber-attacks by strengthening security measures whilst monitoring productivity of their employees who are working remotely.

Sasria is an authorised FSP registered under license number 39117