A couple of weeks ago, I wrote about how South Africa’s MSPs and IT specialists are battling the pandemic and WFH trends. After the article ran, I had the opportunity to speak further on this topic with Dr. Uche Mbanaso, Executive Director of the Centre for Cyberspace Studies at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria. He is a visiting senior lecturer at the University of Witwatersrand in Johannesburg.

Q&A with Dr. Uche Mbanaso

1) What are some of the most significant cybersecurity risks with so many people working remotely because of the pandemic?

Remote access devices are unlikely to have enterprise-grade protection and are susceptible to a variety of threats – man-in-the-middle, denial of Service, advanced persistent threats, phishing, trojans (backdoor threats), etc. Consequently, there is a high risk of identity theft, financial fraud, business email compromise, scams, and more.

2) What do you think are the biggest cybersecurity threats right now that are related to COVID-19?

Many people are in a panic mode and susceptible to social engineering attacks due to distractions that reduce their ability to think before acting. COVID-19 has provided a variety of plausible stories designed to trick people into responding to social engineering maneuvers swiftly. 

3) What do you think the lasting cybersecurity impacts will be from this pandemic?

The pandemic has altered every facet of our lives, prompting more digitalization, and more creative and innovative ideas like AI and robotics revolutionizing office, home, and industry. However, because these solutions are coming at us faster than is typical, the risks and vulnerabilities are amplified to a greater degree.

4) How is South Africa, in general, doing in terms of handling the pandemic? Are most offices going remote? Are there any pandemic-related cybersecurity issues specific to South Africa?

Of course, every business, even the government, touted remote working with several online or virtual meetings. This increased the level of scams, phishing attacks, and business email compromise. With dwindling infrastructure and uncoordinated cybersecurity culture, cybersecurity defense is weak with a huge sense of false security.

Photo: Alexey Stiop / Shutterstock

Kevin Williams

Posted by Kevin Williams

Kevin Williams is a journalist based in Ohio. Williams has written for a variety of publications including the Washington Post, New York Times, USA Today, Wall Street Journal, National Geographic and others. He first wrote about the online world in its nascent stages for the now defunct “Online Access” Magazine in the mid-90s.

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