Provided by Mastercard
With SMEs accounting for almost half of South Africa’s jobs and a fifth of its GDP, there is no doubt that small businesses and entrepreneurs constitute an important part of South Africa’s economy. And while cybersecurity is now a standard element that businesses have to consider as part and parcel of benefiting from safe commercial operations in the digital economy, the novel coronavirus has drastically increased the need for SMEs to prioritize this.
COVID-19 has delivered a double jolt to SMEs – in addition to the economic cost of limited operations, Kaspersky recorded a tenfold increase in local network attacks. Ever on the lookout to exploit vulnerable devices, cybercriminals have been employing various methods, and one in three attacks was the result of brute forcing of passwords. This common technique can quickly disable accounts with repetitively used passwords and poorly configured systems – highlighting the need for strong passwords, as one example.
Fifty eight percent of cybercriminals target small business and the rise in cybercrime targeting SMEs is aided by expectations that many small businesses don’t have dedicated IT departments and may be reducing IT security budgets, while also being unaware of their exposure in terms of remote working protocols and unsecure network connections.
Now in 2020, with COVID-19 creating a very different commercial environment, criminal elements are taking advantage of thinly spread teams who are focused on salvaging business revenues and effecting emergency planning, while security takes a backseat.
Fortunately, there is help at hand for small businesses in South Africa. Cybersecurity Toolkit, an initiative by the Global Cyber Alliance (GCA) and Mastercard, is a helpful, free online resource that small businesses can use to vastly reduce their cyber risk. It offers actionable guidance with clear directions to combat cyberattacks such as phishing, malware and ransomware – all of which can have devastating financial consequences.
The GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit arms small business owners with basic security controls and guidance through videos, policy templates and best practices from leading industry organizations. Tools include details on tracking inventory of cyber-related assets, applying instant defences through multi-factor authentication, maintaining strong passwords, preventing phishing and viruses, performing critical data backups, handling ransomware, protecting emails and managing reputation.
As a development sponsor, Mastercard has shaped the priorities and early success of the GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit, helping millions of entrepreneurs and business owners around the world to protect themselves more comprehensively. It also forms part of Mastercard’s $250 million pledge to support small businesses over the next five years.
“Security and safety are integral to Mastercard’s brand,” says Suzanne Morel, Country Manager, Mastercard South Africa. “As a proud supporter of small businesses – with a global goal to considerably expand that support over the next five years – we continue to develop better solutions to make payments secure, seamless and convenient for SMEs and their customers.”
To access the free GCA Cybersecurity Toolkit, please visit https://gcatoolkit.org/smallbusiness.