Interview: African connectivity - The security of the cloud
We investigate the issues facing cloud computing and the security measures that are in place to protect your business.
Africa is currently in a position to leapfrog first world countries with SaaS innovation and mobile technology, thanks to a rapidly expanding infrastructure and a sudden shift to remote working. But with more of your workforce going digital, the issue of cybersecurity becomes paramount.
We spoke with Kabelo Makwane -Managing Executive, Cloud and Hosting at Vodacom Business, on the issues facing cloud computing, and the security measures that are in place to protect your business.
What’s been happening in cybersecurity this year?
When we talk about PII [personally identifiable] data, we’ve seen a number of breaches – both reported and unreported – in recent times. The number of hacks escalated exponentially with the lockdown and people moving to remote work from home. Hackers also love bandwidth so, with increases in bandwidth penetration, we’ll see more hacking attempts and more distributed incidents as well, with hackers working as cabals in different territories around the world. So there’s a big responsibility on enterprises to make sure that they have complete and comprehensive security and governance model to manage their client’s data and protect against any potential breaches.
What about individual protection?
While enterprises have a big responsibility because consumers entrust them with their data, there’s an equal responsibility on the end-user as well to take precautions to make sure their information is secure – for example, being aware of phishing attacks and not just clicking on any email that comes into your inbox but also making sure that basic things like antivirus software on their machines and their devices are up to date. People must also be aware that a mobile phone is effective computer in your pocket and, as such, needs to be treated in the same way you treat your laptop. You’d be surprised at how few people think of antivirus software running on their mobile devices and making sure that they secure their data with applications that prevent people from siphoning it off and using it without their consent.
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What are the risks to be aware of?
Of course, you cannot overemphasise the importance of data security as it pertains to cloud technologies. And with more and more centralisation of data assets and data resources, this becomes an even more important topic. First, there’s the notion of trust in the cloud, which is a user-driven concept. A lot of hyper-scale cloud providers have spent an inordinate amount of money making sure that they establish trust in the use of cloud resources and cloud computing technology, and manage user perceptions as well. Then there’s the issue of privacy, which is a real concern in terms of how data in the cloud is stored, managed, and at times manipulated for particular uses. So the fundamentals are about making sure that data – at rest, in transit, and in use – must be governed by a sound security strategy and sound security infrastructure.
How are these being managed?
We have the SIEM [security incident and event monitoring] framework and standards from governing bodies like NIST [National Institute of Standards and Technology] and ISO [International Organisation for Standardisation]. But the weakness is about human intervention, which is why we need to find a fix that can help us move from reactive to proactive management. As we evolve and mature the use of cloud technology, we are seeing more and more of these security features becoming embedded within the cloud technology itself. Some of it is driven by analytics and AI enhancements, where you effectively have systems with artificial intelligence agents that are deployed within the infrastructure and act almost like the cloud security police. They traverse the infrastructure, detect trends and anomalies, and proactively alert the people that manage the infrastructure to let them know if something is wrong, even while you’re asleep. So it’s becoming more and more autonomous, with security systems becoming self-aware.
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