LEADING Pan-African technology and innovation services group, Liquid Intelligent Technologies has urged businesses and organizations to increase investments in cybersecurity, as well as contribute more to scaling up awareness at every level about data privacy and security.

The call comes at a time when incidents of cybercrime are on the increase across the globe, Zimbabwe included, which demands that local businesses raise their game or risk the financial devastation caused by cybercriminals.

Given the swift digitization of key services and the rise in data value, Mr. Wellington Makamure, who is regional CEO for Central Africa and Deputy CEO, of Liquid Networks Rest of Africa, says addressing data protection and security gaps should be at the top of every company list.

His sentiments come on the backdrop of the recent International Data Privacy Week (24-28 January 2023), and Safer Internet Day tomorrow (7 February 2023), which buttresses international efforts to create awareness about digital data privacy, and how data is being used and sometimes exploited by businesses.

The campaign calls on businesses to respect the privacy of individuals, and to be more transparent about how they handle user data.

“Businesses need to stop seeing IT as cost centres. It is no longer the time to be ignorant. Everyone who goes online for business or personal reasons needs to be vigilant,” said Mr. Makamure.

“Many Zimbabweans are unaware of how their digital activity and personal data are being collected and shared with large corporations.

“With cyber threats constantly increasing, and hackers targeting corporations, SMMEs, NGOs, governments, emergency services, and individuals daily, taking steps to ensure our digital privacy and digital security has never been more important.”

The Liquid Intelligent executive said the International Data Privacy Week was part of global efforts to raise awareness about online privacy and educate users on how to manage personal information and keep it secure.

According to Mr. Makamure, data privacy is the ability of a person to control their personal data, and the discipline to keep data protected from outside access.

On the other hand, data security entails protecting digital information from corruption, theft, and unauthorized access.

This also covers the protection of data on hardware and software devices, and the administration of controls and security for devices, he added.

“While Zimbabwe and Africa have begun the conversation around cyber security in recent years, especially as incidents of hacking and leaking of private information there is still a lot that needs to be done,” said Mr. Makamure

“Due to low investment in cyber security measures and a widespread lack of understanding about the potential dangers of conducting business, administrative and personal activities online, many sectors in Africa are targets for cybercriminals – government, telecoms, education, health, finance, and SMEs among them.”

As Zimbabwe moves more towards being a cashless society, Mr. Makamure said the finance sector is facing an increasing amount of cybercrime, including phishing and bank card cloning – both of which are on the rise.

“As more and more young people spend time online, the conversation about data privacy and security at a personal level is becoming more pronounced as we can see from incidences of personal/private data leakages,” he said.

In its 2021 report, Liquid listed the top four concerns around cyber security in Zimbabwe as malware and ransomware, email attacks, social engineering, and data breaches.

“Despite this, the same report reveals that Zimbabwean businesses allocate limited budgets to cyber security despite the findings demonstrating that cyber security threats are indeed very real. Everybody who goes online needs to be vigilant,” said Mr. Makamure.

“Some of the solutions you can use to keep your data protected and private include:

Anti-Virus Software, Firewalls, Secure Email, Password Managers, and Cyber Security Solution Suites.”

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