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8 - 12 November 2021
Virtual Event

Cybersecurity: IoT and Data Protection in Africa

Cyber security & data protection will be a main theme we explore at Africa Tech Festival 2021. Join this content track as we unpack the challenges of data security and data protection and best practices for mitigating cyber threats and surviving modern-day cyber-attacks in Africa.

Internet of Things (IoT) refers to the network of connected physical objects, which includes digital machines and computing devices. With nearly 56 billion connected devices estimated worldwide by 2025, IoT security, including cyberattack prevention and safe storage solutions for data, is becoming an ever-more-essential consideration.   

Countries across Africa are already seeing increased cyberattacks, with Uganda’s telecoms and banking sectors being attacked in October 2020 and a subsequent attack on the second-largest hospital operator in South Africa. These cyberattacks were already severe enough, particularly given the fact that the healthcare provider was forced to switch to manual systems to recover. It’s clear that the number and severity of cyberattacks will only continue in the future. 

Without a strategic cyberattack approach, companies will continue to deal with each cyber-response on an individual basis. To improve cyber-resiliency, African governments have put into place policy tools to address the current and future cyber threats. The goal is to prevent cybersecurity vulnerabilities while better preparing companies and government agencies to respond to and mitigate the adverse effects of these malicious attacks.  


Cybersecurity and Data Protection – Building Trust in Africa’s Rapidly Expanding Digital Economy 

The Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Act and the Protection of Personal Information Act are two new laws in South Africa designed to bring the country’s data protection and cybersecurity regulations more in line with international standards. It’s an important first step given how vulnerable they are to cyberattacks and abuse threats. With Africa’s rapidly expanding digital economy, increasing cybersecurity in Africa is a necessity.


The Data Explosion and Other IoT Challenges 

The data explosion refers to the exponential increase in data that is being generated and stored on computing systems in Africa and around the world. It becomes particularly problematic with multidimensional models, and it continues to worsen as the data structure continues to grow. Side effects can include an increased cost for data storage and increased lag and processing time (overall poor performance).  

Companies and organisations can avoid data explosion by reducing the sparsity of data objects. Their efforts can involve avoiding the full pre-calculation of multidimensional objects. Of course, part of this process involves some trial and error to achieve the optimal database structure for the company’s needs, with room for growth in the future.  


Securing and Integrating the Many IoT Devices and Networks 

With billions of devices already connected via IoT, massive amounts of data are already being generated, which leaves many companies and organisations open to hacking and cyberattacks. Many companies are figuring these cyber issues out as they go along, so they don’t address the security holes until they’re already vulnerable or compromised.  

Every company must implement IoT security policies and procedures to effectively combat the impending security challenges.  

  • To start, they must conduct comprehensive IoT security analytics to track the changes to the data structure and then work to mitigate any negative effects.  
  • Companies must implement a public key infrastructure (PKI) to better identify unknown users, which in turn keeps communication and data safer and more secure.  
  • Organisations are moving toward authentication of devices as another way to protect company data. With two-factor authentication, businesses can more easily flag and monitor devices that do not comply with authentication protocols.  
  • Think outside the IoT structure. While many of these devices were not initially designed for security and encryption, companies can add security layers to more effectively secure the data and create a safe environment for the ebb and flow of data.  
  • As another security directive, companies are moving toward more secure networks, since that’s often the easiest entry point for most hackers as they exploit a company’s ineffective security protocols.  
  • Companies need to keep their software updated because outdated firmware and software will not only contribute to decreased productivity but also open doorways for hackers to exploit. When software is up to date, it’s one less thing for the company’s admin personnel to worry about.  
  • Cloud platforms offer increasingly valuable and secure environments for staff members to collaborate, work, and store their data. But those platforms are another possible access point for hackers, so companies must continue to maintain and increase security measures with regular updates to passwords, strict security protocols for blocking and failed logins, two-factor security requirements, and time-delays.  

The time for risk assessment is now, and it’s also time to start implementing the security measures that have been available for some time now. Even one cyberattack has the potential to cost a company millions of dollars. With proper security planning and implementation, companies can avoid many of the most common security breaches, attacks, and failures.  


Devices Will Generate Exponentially More Data in the Future 

Devices continue to get faster and smaller, while simultaneously generating more data than ever before. Some forecasts put the global data sphere at 175 zettabytes by 2025, which is a volume difficult to fathom. It's a challenge that will only grow in intensity as technology continues to evolve.  

Enterprises will generate and manage 60% of the data of the future, but consumers are responsible for a significant portion of that data growth as well. An estimated 6 billion users will interact with data on a daily basis by 2025. Those are monumental considerations.  

With a future where there will be an estimated 56 billion connected devices and 175 zettabytes of data, data is already moving toward a cloud-based model out of sheer necessity. It’s easily scalable, agile, and easy to use for both enterprises and consumers alike. The sheer scope of data will also necessitate more data scientists and data officers to structure and manage the data as it continues to expand exponentially.  

As data becomes an ever-larger challenge, with greater real-world requirements, machine learning is also becoming an ever-more relevant and necessary technology. It’s not just about the simple solutions to track trends or detect fraud, machine learning is starting to look like a way to better connect companies to technology and accomplish tasks that may not have even been envisioned yet.  


Preventing Cyberattacks by Implementing IoT Security Measures and Safe Storage Solutions Required for Data 

Even with the current scope of security measures and safe-storage solutions, the demand for new and ever-more-effective measures continues to grow. Some estimates put IoT device security solutions at a growth factor of more than 25% every year, and that will increase as the world edges ever closer to those 56 billion IoT devices. Those IoT measures will require increasing focus on better securing the devices themselves as technological advances continue to evolve.

At the same time, companies must continue to implement ever-more-stringent multi-factor encryption, stricter password requirements, additional server-side security protocols, and cloud-based storage requirements that will continue to better safeguard company workers and the organisation itself. 


Managing and Utilising the Vast Amount of Data Generated by Rising Innovation and Increased Demand 

Big data offers valuable benefits to organisations, but companies need to plan for the massive volume of data, as well as the evolution in data practices and technologies. Data analytics will continue to drive digital transformation along with new techniques and architectures for collecting and processing data.  

Every company must anticipate the demands of big data while mitigating risks to the organisation and safeguarding information. The goal is to build an infrastructure that will not only protect the company’s best interests but also avoid financial loss and build a successful and long-term relationship with customers.