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South Africa is becoming increasingly connected, especially in the corporate sector where businesses are catching up to their international counterparts when it comes to collaboration and evolving technologies such the Internet of Things. And while we often hear of massive cyber-attacks on big corporations off of our own shores, South African businesses are at an increasing risk of data threats.


According to Grant Thornton’s International Business Report (IBR) on cyber security, cyber-attacks are having devastating effects on businesses in the country, with one out of every 10 (10%) private businesses experiencing a cyber-attack in the past year (the global average is 15%). The report also highlights that cyber-attacks are directly impacting business’s bottom line, and unfortunately almost half of South African businesses (45%) that were surveyed indicated that they don’t have a detailed strategy in place to deal with internet security threats.

Small businesses are at a higher risk of cyber attacks

Small businesses are usually more vulnerable to cyber-attacks as they lack the budget and infrastructure to appoint a dedicated IT manager. The consequences of compromised data, or even worse the loss of valuable information, can cripple the entire business. Big corporations have the financial backing to take care of IT infrastructure in-house and acquire the resources to secure and manage all critical information.

Another dangerous vulnerability that small businesses have is the fact that they’re not always aware of how at risk they are to cyber-attacks, and often tend to allocate cash towards other essential operations. Skimping on comprehensive security measures leaves small businesses at a higher risk of malicious attacks than their larger corporate counterparts.

What kind of cyber-attacks are your small business most vulnerable to?

In this Fin24 interview with the country manager at Trend Micro, Darrin O’Brien, he explains that cyber criminals are on the offence in the country and are mainly using two tactics to gain entry into networks. “The first is phishing attacks where they use a blanket approach, sending malicious emails or files to as many users as possible and it’s obviously successful because cyber criminals are still using this method,” says O’Brien. The second method is spear phishing attacks where, O’Brien says hackers target one or two people, but that’s more time-consuming.

What can you do to prevent cyber-attacks from wreaking havoc in your business?

While one can never truly root out the possibility of a cyber-attack, you can ensure that your small business has the best chance to take on, and survive, an internet security breach. First of all, as mentioned above it’s imperative to be aware of the fact that you’re at a high risk of a cyber-attack and therefore need to educate yourself and every one of your employees on this matter. Arrange a training session on network safety and the most commons attacks that can filter through their email accounts and the websites they visit. Also, encourage them to report any suspicious content immediately – the sooner you know what you’re dealing with the quicker you can respond and prevent massive data losses.

Another way to ensure your business is safeguarded against cyber-attacks is to create and implement a robust security policy that outlines how to report and respond to attacks. This policy should also be included in your business continuity plan and be scalable and adapted as your business grows.

Lastly, and most importantly, make use of an internet security provider that offers you optimal protection against all of the most common cyber security threats. It’s crucial that you invest in a robust firewall, antivirus software, as well as a reliable cloud backup solution.

Ignite can help you protect your business against cyber attacks

We offer small business access to our bundle of comprehensive internet security products that ensure every aspect of your network is secure and ready to defend against any internet security breach.

When choosing Ignite as your security solution provider, you can take advantage of our:

  • SOPHOS Firewall to protect your network against threats such as viruses as phishing attempts.

  • Cloud Backup automatically backup your business data whenever you’d like, so you can always recover information that gets lost or accidentally deleted.

    Fortunately, there are digital business tools available to combat cyber-attacks. To find out about these and how they’re helping business advance, read more in our How to guide: protect your staff and secure your business’s computer systems.