Cybersecurity skills shortage in South Africa could affect citizens, businesses

Cybersecurity skills shortage in South Africa could affect citizens, businesses
Cybersecurity skills shortage in South Africa could affect citizens, businesses. Photo via Pexels

In countries across the world, the emergence of the internet and how we use it in so many facets of our everyday lives has meant that cybersecurity has also become a national priority.

While in South Africa the government has embraced it’s citizens having internet access and even free wireless internet in several cities, cybersecurity still remains an issue as colleges and universities have failed to adapt their curriculum to prioritize data security.

Data security should be a top priority of any country since being without proper protection could lead to vulnerabilities at all levels, including personal use and business use. Governments like the UK’s have fallen victim to ransomware, which led to serious downtime within services like the NHS.

With more and more security vulnerabilities and exploits popping up almost by the day, companies need to be properly prepared to monitor network traffic and keep out offenders. If there isn’t a proper culture of cybersecurity awareness, personal internet use also becomes dangerous as sensitive data is exchanged over the internet every day.

The reason for the skills shortage in cybersecurity within South Africa is most likely due to the country not producing enough specialists, according to a report in the Daily Maverick.

While there is some IT training in higher education institutions in South Africa, it’s not at the level it is at in other countries and students interested in cybersecurity are routed through different programs in computer science and IT.

Photo via Pexels
Photo via Pexels

The available training options for those interested are either cost prohibitive or not a part of the curriculum for several programs.

In a time when cyber crime seems to be on the rise, with South Africa ranking number three in the world in cybercrime victims back in 2015, systemic changes need to be made and a better cybersecurity culture needs to be cultivated, which requires changes to civil society, the private sector and government.

The government drafted a cybersecurity policy back in 2010, but by most accounts, that is very late in the game. Once a better culture is adopted, which should be lead by the government, and the lack of training is addressed, businesses will need to take a strong, proactive approach to protect the data of their local customers.

Aside from safeguarding data, complying with security and privacy regulations and monitoring potential threats is paramount. South Africa increasingly relies and depends on internet services every day. The country knows that this access is something that is a right for all citizens but just as providing such access was a priority, so too should protecting that access, as a lack of cybersecurity can be crippling to the economy and to the safety of South Africa.