SA’s leading IT value-added distributor, Axiz, in conjunction with McAfee, a cyber security solutions vendor, has joined ITWeb Security Summit 2019 as a platinum sponsor. The event will be held in Cape Town on 23 May at the Southern Sun Cape Sun, and in Johannesburg on 28 and 29 May, at the Sandton Convention Centre.

“Events such as Security Summit play a crucial role in helping businesses and end-users learn about the complex threats that organisations face today, as well as the tools and solutions that are there to counteract them,” says Nompumelelo Mdima, BU manager for McAfee at Axiz.

Security Summit attracts security and risk management influencers and decision-makers from across all industries, offering a one-of-a-kind platform for businesses to network and showcase their products and services, she says.

The event sees peers and experts come together as a community to sharpen their cyber security skills, view demos of the latest solutions and connect with other industry leaders.

This is more important today than ever before, Mdima continues. “The threat of cyber crime to organisations is a growing one. Research conducted by McAfee last year revealed that damages associated with cyber crime currently rack up to more than $400 billion, far higher than the $250 billion reported two years ago.”

In the fight to fend off attackers, organisations are investing heavily in ramping up their digital frontiers and security solutions, but the cost remains a barrier to many, as does the plethora of tools and services available. “This is why events like the Security Summit are so crucial. They help to clear the fog that surrounds all the offerings on the market, and help businesses discover which tools are the right ones for them.”

She says breaches are becoming increasingly costly, not just in terms of financial losses, but in mitigation and investigation, as well as damage to reputation and loss of customer confidence. “Falling victim to a cyber attack can cause consumers to lose trust in a business and spend their money at a competitor. Not only that, but a reputation as a business that lets its customers’ most sensitive data fall into the wrong hands can result in the failure to win new business.”

This becomes even more dire when you consider that every business that uses the Internet for some or another reason, is potentially a victim. “The attack surface gets wider and wider, giving cyber crooks multiple entry points into the organisation. Remember, they will do whatever works, and will often employ multiple tricks to achieve their ends. If phishing doesn’t work, they’ll use ransomware, and if that fails, an advanced threat. They will keep on coming at a business until they find a way in, and even companies with the largest security budgets are breached, just look a the past few years… Google, RSA, Target, BA and Marriot all suffered a security event.”

Attackers are well-funded and determined, and their tools get more cunning and sophisticated. Organisations need to accept that breaches are inevitable, and need to learn about the tools and controls that are available to help them to detect and respond to any malicious goings on, before they do too much damage to the business.

Mdima says to remember that cyber crime is effectively a commercial business. “Underground groups are well-funded and highly skilled. They sell their tools on the dark Web, offering DDOS attacks, ransomware, rootkits and Trojans for sale, and many of these on an as a service basis. This means that even those with the most rudimentary tech skills can cash in on the cyber crime wave. Cyber crime is a very compelling proposition, offering maximum reward for very little work, so keeping up to speed with what is going on in this arena is crucial to business survival.”

Another phenomenon that is driving the need for more awareness around cyber security is the Internet of things. “As an increasing number of smart devices and sensors talk to each other, and to the Internet, new risks are emerging. If not managed appropriately, each device that is connected to the Internet could provide attackers with a foothold into the business. Analysts predict that more than 25 billion connected devices will be connected by 2021, so this problem will only get worse. With use of IOT devices potentially introducing a wide range of security vulnerabilities, it is wise to understand how these devices present a risk to your organisation, as well as what can be done to secure them,” adds Mdima.

Finally, she says it is not just the range and frequency of attacks that mean organisations need to be more invested in security than ever before. The increasingly stringent regulatory environment, with POPIA and GDPR in force, means businesses that fail to take the necessary steps to secure their customers’ information and privacy could face very hefty fines.

“All these threats mean that security cannot be taken lightly, and businesses who are serious about protecting themselves and their clients must be up to speed with what is happening in this sector. Security Summit will help them do just that,” she concludes.