Securely Mapping Africa’s Digital Future

The latest cyber-security proposals and guidelines for Africa have proven the need for a unified security strategy across both the public and the private sector, with this being shown across multiple regions, networks and industries. As one of the largest growth areas in the world, the guidelines make a point of discussing how integral it is that security solutions respond to the increasingly interconnected world, as well as to the governments concern in the effectiveness of cyber-security as a whole.

Recognizing the Risks of Cybercrime in Africa

The Internet Society and the African Union Commission’s Internet Infrastructure Security Guidelines are the first of their kind anywhere in the region. Their goal is expressly to provide a more secure base for networks and individuals who are currently at serious risk of cyber-attack.

And these proposals are a long time coming. There have been huge amounts of concern about the most recent devastating DDoS and malware attacks, which have put an immense pressure on both the local and the global digital economy. Take WannaCry as one example which crippled the energy and power supplies, and where the ripples are still being felt.  And when it comes to Africa, we’re talking about a region which appears to be far more vulnerable than many other places in the world.

Kenya alone lost around $171 million from cyber-crime in 2016, according to a study by Deloitte. They are currently ranked as the 69th most vulnerable country in the world in the Global Threat Index. TMT Leader at Deloitte East Africa, Erik van der Dussen, summed it up simply, “East Africa region and particularly Kenya are becoming a target of choice for cybercrime.”

How Can We Get in on the Ground Floor?

While only 25.1% of people in Africa are currently online, this number has experienced double digit growth over the past decade. We’re clearly looking at an exciting market for growth.

But Dinesh Op, the technical manager for Africa at Siemon, is worried about progress being slowed down due to “poor levels of awareness of cybersecurity issues and a general lack of knowledge about the risks involved in the use of information and communication technology.”

As well as impeding this growth, there are also concerns that critical public services may start to experience disruption, or even complete stasis.

AfricaCom 2017: Facing the Problems, Head On

Cyber-security cannot be handled within silos. The more we make it possible to connect to other people, networks and devices to send helpful data and information, the more likely it is that these channels will be used maliciously. The holistic nature of our communications must be addressed, and networks need to be given the tools to identity and stop malware wherever it originates from.

At AfricaCom this year, we can’t wait for Reshaad Sha’s keynote solo on an extremely relevant topic, gaining a competitive advantage with IoT technology.  He will be looking at the overall challenge of connected devices and channels, including IoT security, as well as how to harness the right data to use as intelligent analytics.

Another interesting discussion will be the Mobile Finance and Commerce keynote panel, which is specifically looking at strategies to increase security, at the same time as improving interoperability and user experience.

We’ve personally worked hard to create a solution which can inspect 100% of the traffic on your network, but uses surgical filtering to avoid any kind of over-blocking. This means that legitimate traffic is never impeded, and Quality of Service is not affected. The end user can switch from mobile, fixed, or cloud services, and handle sensitive data, without any risk to themselves or their shared network.

The Challenge for Security Solutions

The gauntlet has been thrown down for security solution providers, and it’s been thrown by the African Union Commission in the form of these exact guidelines for the region. Providing a security solution which can protect networks, as well as their end-users is no easy task. It needs to block infection which is carried through connected devices, manage multi-channel use, and defend networks from huge-scale attacks without taking away from essential Quality of Service.

If this can be done, it could have huge ramifications on other jurisdictions, helping to lay a foundation for cyber-security strategies which can cross networks and sectors in a truly holistic way, paving Africa’s digital landscape for the future.

To learn more about how to achieve this, contact us.

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