The internet has changed the way in which our world works. It has opened doors to information, people and communication. Unfortunately, it has also allowed criminal elements to enter our lives more easily.
South Africa loses an estimated R5.8 billion a year to cybercrime. In 2016 the Norton Report placed the country third highest out of 24 countries surveyed with regards to the effects of cybercrime. In the wake of international cybersecurity incidents such as the WannaCry virus, people are becoming increasingly vigilant of their online risks and more aware of their cyber safety.
October is Cybersecurity Month. This annual global campaign aims to raise awareness around cybersecurity issues, as well as educate the public about staying safe online. While UCT’S Information and Communication Technology Services (ICTS) has run this drive for the past five years, this year it is being run on campus by the newly formed Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT).
Roshan Harneker, senior manager of Information and Cybersecurity at UCT, said, “The CSIRT was formed with the express purpose of responding to, controlling and managing computer security incidents at UCT. Staffed by highly skilled individuals, the team resolves issues when the campus network becomes compromised.”
To prevent recurrences, the team investigates current and potential threats to the university’s computer network, and the origins of any cybersecurity incidents. The CSIRT also provides cybersecurity awareness on campus, which involves communicating potential vulnerabilities and threats to the campus community.
Understanding the threats
During Cybersecurity Month 2017, the CSIRT will be informing campus about a wide variety of issues concerning online security, including password and social-media safety, and phishing.
Harneker said, “The take-home message of this year’s campaign is ‘Our shared responsibility’, meaning that it is only through cooperative efforts that cyber threats can be effectively combatted.
“The onus is on everyone to educate themselves about safe online practices and to share this information with others. It also involves making sure that incidents are reported to the correct channels. It’s fundamental to understand the threats that risky online behaviour can pose – not just to an individual, but to their friends, family, fellow colleagues and students, and UCT as a whole.”
Each week of the campaign will bring a different theme, touching on basic cybersecurity, self-education, sharing information and how UCT handles cybersecurity threats. All content will be available on the CSIRT website.
Weekly quizzes will also be run, and correct answers to a quiz will earn an entry into a competition that boasts fantastic prizes, including an iPad each week.
By the end of October, the CSIRT hopes to have made UCT’s staff and students aware of the threats they face online, how they can tackle those dangers, and what UCT is doing to keep them safe.