Where does SA logistics stand when it comes to cybersecurity?

by | 14 Nov 2023 | Local News, RSA News

Local market leaders, including Bidvest International Logistics, provide a fascinating perspective on where this vital part of the nation’s economy rests and what needs to be done to address increasing threats.

South Africa’s logistics industry is battling a war on many fronts. Bad weather, equipment breakdowns, shortages, and congestion continue to hamper the country’s ports and add days to the supply chain, creating havoc downstream.

The conflict in Ukraine and the weakness of the rand are exacerbating the situation, with inflation skyrocketing to the detriment of consumers. In addition, South Africa is now firmly in the crosshairs of cybercriminals. Antivirus provider Kaspersky’s research shows that ransomware attacks in South Africa doubled between January and April 2022 compared to the same period last year. The 2021 cyberattack on Transnet was especially damaging, impacting ports, harbours, and pipelines to the point that the state enterprise was forced to declare force majeure at several container terminals.  

Lesiba Sebola, Director of Information Technology at Bidvest International Logistics (BIL), says it’s paramount to safeguard IT infrastructure given how central it’s become to operations. “The bottom line is the financial losses incurred. Transnet not being able to operate its ports affects us and, obviously, if there are attacks in our own environment, that necessitates downtime of the infrastructure and it is difficult to conduct business,” he says.

Sebola says the most prevalent form of attack is phishing, which seeks to get information from users. “You need a multifaceted approach to protecting your information. We have perimeter security, which involves firewalls. And, with operating systems, there’s always updates you need to do, whether it’s an operating system update or security update to eliminate vulnerabilities that the providers have identified.”

Antivirus software is another must as part of your endpoint security. “Your endpoint security is also important to protect the confidentiality of your company information in case of stolen endpoint devices. Sometimes we tend not to think about stolen goods and how they can be used in the process of a cyberattack.”

However, Sebola stresses that the most important aspect of cybersecurity is user awareness. “The majority of successful attacks happen here. If your users are not aware, it’s like taking a key to your house and throwing it over the security fence for attackers to use.”  

Like Sebola, Craig Rosewarne, MD of cybersecurity company Wolfpack Information Risk, believes everyone is at risk of cyberattacks. “You could be an individual, a non-profit, a small charity, it doesn’t matter. The hacker doesn’t care where the money comes from,” he says. “The harsh reality is that attacks can’t be prevented, but organisations can defend against them provided they recognise the complexity of digital crimes and tackle them accordingly.”

For Sebola, this means continuously monitoring networks to establish any irregular patterns. “You have to have an incident response plan in place, but you also can’t have a prescriptive one that is generic. This plan will tell you who needs to be involved, and who the contact people are, and not just from IT. You need to establish who is involved from legal, operations, and the communications side because there are various aspects that you want to consider.”

“When you have cyber insurance, part of the requirement is that you inform them of any breaches. It’s important to keep logs from the IT side. Make sure you contain the attack so you can preserve the evidence. This is important in terms of the analysis, later on, to prevent such a breach from happening again,” he concludes.

At FATS, we try to be as forward-thinking and security-conscious as possible, therefore FATS has taken robust measures to combat cyberattacks by strategically migrating its operations to a cloud environment. Recognizing the evolving landscape of cyber threats, FATS has implemented a comprehensive set of security rules to fortify its digital infrastructure. The deployment of advanced measures such as phishing detection systems, robust firewalls, and state-of-the-art antivirus software forms a formidable line of defense against various cyber threats. Furthermore, FATS has prioritized continuous monitoring of its networks, ensuring that any suspicious activity is promptly identified and addressed. As a proactive approach to cybersecurity, the company enforces mandatory security updates over a designated time period, ensuring that its systems are equipped with the latest defenses against emerging threats. By embracing these multifaceted strategies, FATS demonstrates a commitment to safeguarding its digital assets and maintaining the trust of its stakeholders in an increasingly interconnected and dynamic digital landscape.