Security professionals face a challenging landscape that's further complicated by evolving threats, limited skillsets and intense regulatory pressures
Cybersecurity professionals face a multitude of challenges. Technology that’s consistently changing and evolving; a rigorously demanding regulatory environment; and protecting a distributed workforce while juggling complex interconnectivity and the customer-centric expectations of the business. All this against the backdrop of increasingly sophisticated cybersecurity threats, ransomware attacks, phishing scams and Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. As Shilpi Handa, Associate Research Director (META) at IDC, points out, these attacks pose a threat to business and critical infrastructure in South Africa, and the security professional is right there, on the front line.
“To protect against these complex threats, security professionals must continuously update their knowledge and enhance awareness and training,” continuesHanda . “They need to implement proactive security measures alongside reactive strategies to safeguard their organisations from potential breaches and cyber-attacks. And these attacks are proliferating exponentially.”
Phishing attacks remain a significant threat with cybercriminals using deceptive emails, messages or phone calls to trick individuals into revealing sensitive information, such as login credentials or financial details. The Middle East and Africa region (MEA) has witnessed aggressive growth in phishing threats which has resulted in the implementation of stricter regulatory compliance measures across many countries and an increased awareness of the need to improve security postures.
“Like many other regions, South Africa has seen an increase in ransomware attacks,” saysHanda . “These involve malware that encrypts data, demands a ransom for decryption keys, and causes both financial losses and operational disruptions. Ransomware is also evolving as the attackers are shifting how they approach ransom and encryption – more and more, they are simply threatening to release sensitive data unless paid an extortionate sum rather than bothering with encrypting the data first.”
The radical shift in threats has been met by an equally robust regulatory response – organisations have to be constantly vigilant and prepared to adapt to changing regulations. The unauthorised access and theft of sensitive data continue to be a significant cybersecurity challenge for organisations as it leads to financial losses and reputational damage. This is compounded by the risk of insider threats where employees or trusted individuals intentionally or unintentionally compromise security.
“The proliferation of Internet of Things (IoT) devices adds to the complexity of security networks, while the shift to cloud-based infrastructure demands even more robust security measures,” saysHanda . “Professionals are now expected to fight the security battle across multiple touchpoints that span IoT devices, employees, networks, remote workers, and regulatory expectations. It’s intensely challenging, especially with a shortage of skilled cybersecurity professionals available to provide support and bolster security team defences.”
Security professionals are in short supply and in high demand. The lack of talent is hampering the organisation’s ability to effectively defend against threats, address legacy system vulnerabilities and counter artificial intelligence (AI) based cyber threats. This is complicated by insufficient cybersecurity awareness and education, the inadequate use of strong passwords, the lack of multi-factor authentication, and poorly secured authentication systems.
“For the security professional, vulnerabilities pop up like anthills, and they are constantly having to reassess and assess systems to protect against these complex threats,” concludesHanda . “Security professionals must continuously update their knowledge, enhance awareness and training, and implement proactive security measures alongside reactive strategies to safeguard their organisations from potential breaches and cyber-attacks.”
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