Some cybersecurity experts in South Africa are forecasting more challenging times ahead as threat actors exploit emerging innovations such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) to launch sophisticated cyber attacks.
This is even as cybercrime is increasingly posing a significant risk to enterprises globally.
According to experts from Acronis, ransomware continues to be the primary threat to large and medium-sized businesses, including government, healthcare, and other critical organizations.
“Technological advancements such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML) have become an emerging challenge that requires enterprises to refocus on cybersecurity and rethink their overall approach to cyber protection,” Candid Wüest, Vice President for Cyber Protection Research, Acronis stated this ahead of the upcoming Rectron Summit in Johannesburg, South Africa.
He noted that despite the rate at which cybercriminals are tapping into emerging technologies and innovations to launch cyber attacks, cybersecurity players in the region are equally developing highly effective solutions to neutralize threats.
“As technology continues to evolve and grow in popularity among end users, so will cyber threats. AI and ML are great innovations designed to help enterprises operate effectively, and efficiently and also enhance customer engagement. However, cybercriminals are also targeting the same innovations to infiltrate digital ecosystems using sophisticated attack methods. This is why platforms such as the Rectron Summit are important to help the regional tech space identify gaps, challenges, and opportunities that can be used to develop effective cyber protection solutions for enterprises,” noted Wüest.
Africa’s threat landscape
As the second largest economy in Africa and with a GDP worth over US$405.7 billion, South Africa remains a constant target for cyber attacks. According to a prediction by Mordor Intelligence, South Africa’s cybersecurity sector continues to grow at pace – with a compound annual growth rate of 12.97 percent between 2023 and 2028. According to the Acronis Mid-Year Cyberthreats Report 2023, ransomware continues to be the primary threat to large and medium-sized businesses, including government, healthcare, and other critical organizations.
In line with this impressive growth, the region’s threat landscape is still under sharp focus as these cases continue to be reported. According to a report by The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research, cybercrime costs the South African economy an estimated R2.2 billion per annum with more than half of firms in the region reporting ransomware attacks over the past year.
“As part of our participation in this year’s Rectron Summit, our role will be to demonstrate our long-term commitment in partnering with enterprises, both big and small, in the region to help make the South African digital economy and ecosystem one of the safest in the continent. We strongly believe in a collective solution-driven approach to developing cost-effective cyber protection solutions that offer unprecedented Ransomware protection,” said Wüest.
Nigeria and Kenya, which are considered high-risk areas largely due to their burgeoning internet penetration and digitalisation, are also equally experiencing sustained cyber threats and attacks as 90 percent of their SMEs are operating without the necessary cybersecurity protocols in place, according to Interpol’s African Cyberthreat Assessment Report.
The annual gathering of industry peers and thought leaders will feature keynotes from notable experts including Denis Cassinerio, senior director of worldwide distribution at Acronis, who will speak on cyber protection for cyber resilience. As part of his presentation, Denis will also offer insights into the global and local threat landscapes, explore how the cybersecurity skills gap necessitates steps toward reducing complexity, and highlight the role of AI and ML in cybersecurity. On his part, Steve Brining, cybersecurity evangelist at the Acronis #CyberFit Academy, will also conduct interactive and insightful sessions on the role and importance of Incident Response Plans for African enterprises.
As part of their participation, Acronis will also host over 30 partners at an exclusive boot camp where the participants will learn new sales tactics and techniques to enable them to sensitize end users on email security countermeasures that can effectively tackle phishing, spam, malware, account takeover, among other threats, in line with the Microsoft 365 platform.
The Rectron Summit, which will be held on September 7, is a technology-focused annual showcase aimed at educating resellers and their customers about the latest products and services offered by authorized vendors in South Africa. Estimated to attract over 600 attendees, this year’s theme, ‘Digitalisation: Future of Work & Home’, is aimed at preparing consumers for the future of work in an age of automation and digitization.