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South Africa battles increasing cyberattacks

April 1, 2022
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Why this is important to Wisconsin businesses: Wisconsin has a strong range of IT firms whose services might be welcomed in order to strengthen cybersecurity in South Africa.

Cybersecurity is a growing concern in South Africa.

Although South Africa counts more than 20,000 companies in the information technology sector, contributing about 8% to the gross domestic product, their technologies have been under increasing attack by cybercriminals.

South Africa has the third-highest number of victims of cybercrime, and their losses amount to $147 million USD (R2.2 billion) a year, a 2020 report by Accenture said. There were as many as 577 attempted malware attacks an hour in South Africa during the first quarter of 2019, a 22% increase over the previous year.

The country suffered its largest data breach in August 2020, when the personal information of 24 million South Africans and nearly 800,000 businesses was exposed, according to Forbes Africa. The suspect deceived the Experian credit bureau, claiming to be an existing client, the Forbes report said. South Africa’s Information Regulator—the independent organization set up by the government to monitor and enforce compliance with personal information protection—said sensitive data leaked onto the dark web.

Mimecast, a worldwide cybersecurity company, said the COVID-19 pandemic aggravated the problem. It reported a 75% increase in impersonation fraud in South Africa during the first 100 days of the pandemic, Forbes said.

To raise cybersecurity standards to meet international levels, South Africa passed a Cybercrimes Act that took effect in July 2021. The law more clearly defines the criminal acts and sets specific ways for authorities to investigate those crimes, according to the Institute for Security Studies in Pretoria.

With the majority of South Africa’s software coming from other countries, particularly the U.S., Wisconsin IT firms could find significant opportunities to participate in the South African market.


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