Attack on credit bureau exposes 24 million South African's personal details

Cybersecurity

Attack on credit bureau exposes 24 million South African's personal details
By Cybersecurity expert and J2 Software CEO John Mc Loughlin

South Africans now have another thing to worry about, their personal information has been lost to a fraudster who has gained access to 24 million people’s information. The information in question is the exact detail required to access banking information, access accounts and steal identities. The exact end game is not clear, but the possibilities are endless.

The initial hype around Experian mentioned they had been hacked and data was stolen. With additional detail it seems that none of the systems were breached and the personal information of 24 million South Africans was lost due to an internal failure.

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14 Years – what a trip?

LI Background

Today is bittersweet. 14 years ago today I walked into my first day at a new job. The first day of J2 Software. After months of planning, setbacks, re-planning, negotiation, doubt and confidence the first day in our “office” was here.

3 April 2006 and I proudly walked into the warehouse area of E-Bis armed with 2 laptops, a laser printer and a 3G data card the size of my left hand. Jason still had a month’s notice to complete at his previous employer so it would be a few more weeks before we got to share that desk and 3G card to get our message out there. Jason and I would have to talk on the telephone after hours as the first days flew by. Those were great times, difficult times, exciting times. We were freezing in winter and melting in summer. Driving in panic to Vereeniging for damage control and celebrating some amazing wins.

We had customers who bought from us so that they could stop people going to Facebook or playing Farmville and watching YouTube at work. This was a time when the cost of bandwidth meant that it should be saved at all costs. The world has changed so much.

Now 14 years later, I proudly walked into my home office as the world is such a different place and our entire team is spread across the country safely holed up in their houses. The excitement to “go to work” remains the same and the passion to build a proudly South African security focused technology business burns stronger than ever.

Days like today give me reason to reflect and I have to say that even with all the setbacks, economic crises and challenges along the way, I am so proud of what J2 has achieved in 14 short years. We have endured several global downturns and now we are living through a pandemic, but I am sure of one thing – we will not only survive this, we will thrive through it. The human tragedy unfolding around us has caused me to revaluate many aspects about the business and the relationships we have with our team members, suppliers and customers. J2 is focused on being part of a massive bounce back and explosion of South African business. The next 12 months will be good, we will make sure of it.

I remember every small victory and every single difficult decision. The stresses around cash flow and gut-wrenching difficulties through chemotherapy and radiation. All of this made us champions of resilience.

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Passwords Passwords Everywhere…

The growth of cyber-attacks is well documented and every single cyber security enterprise is talking about Cyber Resilience to improve your business’ security posture. The term is being used so much and yet we are still not really helping the average technology user understand the importance or exactly what it means and what they can do to lower their risk.

Often the focus on corporate risks and acceptable use policies is lost on the end user. Constantly referring only to the policy will not influence the user to adjust behaviour. In order to make real change we need to focus more on procedures, steps and the personal impact of better cyber hygiene to help our users be more secure. When our users know what to do and what to look out for, they will be better protected at home and automatically by association more secure at work.

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Scammers are after you…

The number of cyber-attacks are increasing and the cyber crime syndicates will use any method possible to get you to part with your hard earned money. They are after sensitive data, credit card information and “facilitation fees”. Every single person is a target and rest assured that the cyber criminal does not discriminate.
In this piece I will speak about the use of social media to kick off a cyber attack. I will use a real example that we encountered this week and it is important to note that these types of attacks happen across all platforms. Older people are also seen as soft targets because the criminals rely on their trusting nature and limited knowledge of the new digital world we live in.

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From the Inside, out

As humans, we tend to draw all our focus outwards - how people look, how successful a business is from their office space, how safe a home is depending on the high walls and electric fencing.

This is the same for Cyber Security. Companies focus on outsider threats.

They make sure they are equipped to defend against hackers infiltrating through malware or social engineering tactics skimming over the fact that a large amount of breaches that occur are due to insider threats.

An insider threat can be a user who causes a breach through careless behaviour or an employee that is deliberately causing the business harm by stealing information or hacking into the organisation to spread malware which causes major damage and data loss.

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