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Rise in cybersecurity crime in South Africa forces government to introduce new legislation

The increase of cybercrime and cybersecurity breaches in South Africa have forced government representatives  to introduce new legislation in an attempt to combat against the worrying escalation in  unlawful cyber activity in the country. South Africa has been the predominant target for cybercrime in the African continent, primarily due to its comparatively high levels of internet connectivity in relation to other African nations. Cybersecurity is very much a global issue -the US and Russia are still courting controversy and coverage over the Russia’s alleged influence in the presidential election which resulted in the hacking and release of over 30,000 e-mails sent by Democratic nominee Hilary Clinton.

Clinton was subsequently investigated by the FBI - and the breach seriously dented her campaign. Outgoing president Barack Obama ordered an immediate investigation into the cybersecurity hack and CIA officials confirmed they believed it was Russia. This has been rejected by current president Trump and officials in Moscow.

However, it is a growing trend in South Africa, and many businesses have been targeted by cybercrime. Some of the threats posed and identified by authorities include unlawful acquisition or interference in relation to sensitive data, relating to their clientele or business operations.

That has forced government representatives in the Springbok nation to take immediate action. They have imposed stronger penalties for those found responsible of committing such crimes and have also called for the creation of better infrastructure to combat the ongoing issue. The bill has been called ‘The Cybercrime and Cybersecurity Bill’ and was tabled in Parliament on February 21st of this year.

The bill has created several new offences for unlawful cyber activity, including the above examples of cybercrime, and imposes penalties on offenders who commit cybercrime. It also creates infrastructure, such as the Cyber Response Committee and 24/7 Point of Contact, to promote cybersecurity within South Africa. The Bill is a positive development in the white collar crime and anti-corruption space, as it addresses the immediate and costly danger posed by cybercrime.

It is hoped that this new bill will deter potential cyber-hackers and fraudsters from committing acts of cybercrime on South African businesses.