Monday, May 30, 2016

South Africa Draws Sharp Lines When It Comes to Information Sharing

Sharing information about attacks and vulnerabilities between strategic foreign allies is nothing new. The Allies did share intel in both World Wars. Countries in the West shared it during the Cold War.

Information sharing saves money, time and, most importantly, lives.

ITWeb Security Summit 2016 held in VodaWorld, Midrand, offered a broad range of topics for security professionals this year.

Analysts, experts and representatives from some of the biggest tech companies around the globe shared the latest security wisdom as it pertains to management, best practices, technical advances, and defense.

Information Sharing

One topic of particular interest this year has been "cyber" defense and the role of information sharing across sovereign borders. The intelligence community has always relied heavily on findings from foreign partners to fight terror and crime. The problem with cybercrime and cyber warfare is that, although perpetrators attack entities and people who live within clear geopolitical boundary lines, boundaries that exist within the cyber realm are blurred.

The Internet is fluid. And, in one sense the Internet’s far more Business driven than it’s ever been Governmental—at least in the west. 
And, one very annoying fact about Government—as it pertains to adoption of new technology—is its notoriously slow rate of adoption. 

Only with incidents like the February 2016 hack of the Internal Revenue Service in the United States, where a hacker gained access to 464K accounts in an attempt to steal refund money, does a government feel pressured to jump in.

The United States definitely is not alone.

The Rule of Cyber Law within South Africa

In her recent article, Law Needs to Catch Up with Cyber Crime, Regina Pazvokarambwa cited gaps in legislation due to failure to keep up with new technologies.

Critics within South Africa can point to a reluctance to share information at least in part due the slowness of lawmakers in passing proper cyber crime legislation. Failure to convict often has led to an upsurge in incidences of cybercrime.

It’s an epidemic. 

Dave Loxton, attorney at ENS Africa, and one of the breakout session presenters at the ITWeb Security Summit, believes a greater sense of urgency among legislators will get proposed bills through the system faster.

“The damage from crime syndicates in South Africa alone,” says David Loxton, “could cost $1 billion a year by 2019.” Steve Morgan, Founder and CEO of Cybersecurity Ventures, and Editor-in-Chief of the Cybersecurity Market Report projects a $2 trillion price tag by 2019.

If that’s not enough incentive for information sharing, what is?

The Government and the Private Sector—Working Together

One area where defense and the private community are making headway is Aerospace. Rand Corporation released the results of a recent study: Facilitating Information Sharing Across the International Space Community.

As in space exploration, there are benefits to joining forces with likeminded partners.

Understandably, when rivalries exist between groups competing for the same business, sharing will be at a minimum. But when there’s an advantage for all parties, then, common sense dictates that sharing of pertinent information is the best course—especially when fighting cybercrime and cyber attacks.

Future Woes Averted

Gartner estimates 20 billion devices will connect to the Internet by 2020. Today we’re at a mere 6.4 billion. This increased potential for attack-and-hack keeps some law enforcement agencies up a night.

Now’s certainly the time for legislators to spring into action.

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