As governments across the world embrace the digital transformation journey, their IT and security professionals are challenged to make sure that sensitive government and citizen data remains protected, while remaining open and transparent to stakeholders.
This is in line with a blog written by RSA Product and Solution Strategist, Tim Norris, who says, “As agencies and their partners work to make government more accessible to citizens through online and mobile experiences, There’s a risk that these activities will make operations and data more at risk of cyber-attacks – whether by external actors like nation-states, activists and disgruntled citizens looking to make chaos or by insider threats across the government workforce.”
RSA is a global cyber-security leader with consulting and technology solutions that empower firms by providing a holistic view of cyber-security needs, in order to reduce risk and rapidly respond to incidents. It is distributed locally by value-added distributor Networks Unlimited Africa.
Stefan van de Giessen, General Manager of Cyber-security at Networks Unlimited Africa, explains, “There are many reports outlining areas of South African business where we see digital transformation lagging behind, for example in a 2018 report from multinational professional services networks PwC, ‘Digital Champions: How industry leaders build integrated operations ecosystems to deliver end-to-end customer solutions’, over 1,100 executives at global manufacturing companies in 26 countries were surveyed – including South Africa – asking them about their views on Industry 4.0 and digital operations”.
“The manufacturing companies surveyed in South Africa at the time of the report did not include any so-called ‘digital champions’ and, indeed, most were found to be digital novices. Most people would regard it as a good extrapolation to mention that similarly, the South African government is additionally lagging in its digitization transformation within the public sector.”
As an organization, RSA takes a business-focused approach to a company’s cyber-security strategy, offering solutions that uniquely link business context with security incidents. Van de Giessen adds, “When we expect that cyber-criminals globally have shown their readiness to strike at state-run critical infrastructure, with potential samples of cyber-attacks including power facilities, transport systems, manufacturing plants, water treatment facilities and defense systems, it is clear that governments around the globe need to set out their cyber-security requirements and strategies as a business priority, in just the same way that we see occurring in the private sector”.
Van de Giessen notes that there may be some good news on the horizon as regards the South African government’s digitization journey, as seen from a December 2019 announcement by Communications and Digital Technologies Minister, Stella Ndabeni-Abrahams.
He clarifies, “The government, via the minister, announced what it called digital transformation plans to enable South Africa to respond to the Fourth industrial revolution (4IR) challenges. The minister told the media that the government is embarking on a process of improving operational efficiencies in government entities, which will include the licensing of the high demand spectrum, fast-tracking the roll-out of broadcast digital migration, and building an enormous data economy. And so we can certainly regard this announcement as showcasing a few steps in the right direction.
“At the same time, once we believe technological progress, the spectre of potential job losses inevitably raises its head, in African country also as in other countries around the globe and across history. We need to remember that unions often seem to be against different sorts of evolution which this will arguably hold any country back, especially if unions in South Africa attempt to fight the inevitable transformation that’s required in our government and state-owned entities. And yet, the flip side of this coin is the way that digital reinvention, in general, could spur South Africa’s economy into growth, as outlined in a 2017 report by American management consulting company, McKinsey. At the same time, a healthy digitization strategy must, inevitably, include a strong emphasis on cyber-security measures.”
Norris echoes this in his RSA blog when he says that the potential consequences of a government not having adequate cyber-security measures include:
- Threats to national security;
- Disruptions to public services,
- utilities and healthcare;
- Privacy violations, breaches and exposure of millions of citizens’ personal and financial data to criminals on the dark web;
- Leaks of classified information; and even
- Election tampering.
“RSA presents actionable information for organisations of all sizes and types, allowing them to become aware of the latest digital risks, and thereby carry out more effective digital risk management. It is important for businesses – including the business of government – to see the link between security and business performance, as well as delivery,” concludes Van de Giessen.