Information Security in Africa – The Canon Perspective (by Quentyn Taylor)
By Quentyn Taylor, Director of Information Security at Canon Europe, Middle East & Africa (www.Canon-Europe.com)
With remote and hybrid working becoming the ‘normal’ and cybercrime escalating at a rapid rate, more businesses are at risk than ever before. Quentyn Taylor, Director of Information Security at Canon Europe, Middle East & Africa, says implementing cybersecurity basics is key to reducing risk and building cyber resilience.
The recent rapid digital transformation and the use of cloud-based solutions have made businesses – in Africa as well as around the world – more vulnerable to cybercrime. In today’s global village, getting hacked or being the victim of cybercrime is inevitable.
The move to hybrid work (https://bit.ly/3uEoVwZ) has extended network perimeters, which now include the location of main offices as well as employee homes. Mobile and remote working can be beneficial for productivity, but opens up new threat vectors with device management. The huge growth in the use of connected devices – such as laptops, printers and phones – translates into more entry points for possible attacks.
At the same time, cybercrime is evolving and becoming more and more sophisticated. It’s gone from trying to infect as many devices as possible looking for weak links that can allow criminals to steal data or ransom corporate systems.
One mistake or omission by a single employee – or even a third-party vendor – can potentially bring down an entire business.
When employees work remotely – from home or in public spaces – they are operating outside of the usual company controls; existing security measures may no longer be applicable or effective.
The risk is universal; even large companies with sufficient resources have sometimes failed, often against basic attacks.
Typical attack vectors include malware, ransomware, identity theft and email phishing, possibly the most prevalent approach in Africa. Messaging apps like WhatsApp have also been used to compromise victims.
The financial impact of cybercrime can be enormous; the European base Pathé Cinema channel lost over $ 21 million due to a corporate messaging compromise (BEC) scam and in the United States, CNA Financial paid $ 40 million in ransom in 2020.
Such costs can be crippling, especially for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who may not have the financial resources to recover. The “infosec poverty line” is a reality: many small businesses, the backbone of most African economies, simply cannot afford to employ dedicated IT professionals and the massive increase in employment. cost of cybersecurity and cyber insurance puts them out of reach for many.
While you can never completely eradicate risk, there are simple steps you can take that can boost the cyber resilience of almost any business. Work with your reality – while IS issues are global, they manifest themselves differently in different areas; there is no one-size-fits-all solution. Focus on the basics, make a plan, and drive towards success. Don’t try to force people to do as they’re told, dynamically adapt the message to the real situation. Leading in a way that keeps your business and your customers safe.
The first step is to check the internal and external IT perimeter for gaps. A single entry point can allow an attacker to enter, much like an open window is an invitation to an opportunistic thief. In today’s fully connected workplace, every device is a potential entry point for criminals.
Everyone’s safety and every piece of equipment must be up to par.
You may have a partner who can help – at Canon, we provide our partners with comprehensive assessments to help mitigate security vulnerabilities.
Look for third-party service providers with built-in security and a good track record, you may have already paid for security services through your email provider and the Internet; check what you already have and plan from there. Working on a large scale allows them to integrate many security features at a much more reasonable cost.
Most importantly, make sure your employees enable security features in the software and devices they use. Multi-factor authentication is offered on almost all social platforms, is usually free, and is one of the easiest ways to significantly boost your security.
At the end of the day, people are both your strongest and weakest link. It only takes one wandering click on a phishing email to open the business up to risk. Educate employees on basic cyber hygiene and encourage them to come forward and share their mistakes. If an error is open, it can be corrected. Your defense strategy is only effective if violations are reported.
Develop processes and systems that protect against loss if someone’s email is compromised.
You don’t have to be the most secure company; you just need to be safer than your neighbors. Most criminals are opportunists, looking to attack easy targets. It’s not about spending; some companies are investing heavily in the IS but have not activated multifactor authentication of e-mails.
By taking control of your information and network, and educating all of your employees, you can stay ahead of cybercriminals and continue to serve your customers with confidence.
Canon has developed useful tools for managing workplace risk and security, including a guide available for free download (https://bit.ly/2YfXUEA) and the Canon Information Security Insights YouTube series (https: / /bit.ly/3B7HDzu)
Distributed by APO Group on behalf of Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA).
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About Canon North and Central Africa:
Canon Central and North Africa (CCNA) is a division of Canon Middle East FZ SARL (CMF), a subsidiary of Canon Europe. The formation of CCNA in 2015 was a strategic step that aimed to enhance Canon’s business in the Africa region – strengthening Canon’s presence and focus in countries. CCNA also demonstrates Canon’s commitment to connecting with its customers and meeting their demands in a rapidly changing African market.
Canon has been represented on the African continent for over 15 years through distributors and partners who have successfully built a strong customer base in the region. CCNA ensures the supply of high quality and technologically advanced products that meet the demands of Africa’s rapidly changing market. With more than 100 employees, CCNA manages sales and marketing activities in 44 African countries.
Canon’s corporate philosophy is Kyosei (https://bit.ly/2Zctq6h) – “to live and work together for the common good”. CCNA pursues sustainable business growth, focusing on reducing its own environmental impact and helping customers reduce theirs by using Canon products, solutions and services. At Canon, we are pioneers, constantly redefining the world of imaging for the greater good. With our technology and innovative spirit, we push the boundaries of what is possible, helping us see our world in ways we’ve never seen before. We help bring creativity to life, one image at a time. Because when we can see our world, we can transform it for the better.
For more information: www.Canon-CNA.com.
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