Cyber forensic investigators urgently needed

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Worldwide cyber attacks have recently dominated the headlines, with more frequent attacks like the WannaCry ransomware being reported on by mainstream media, putting ransomware at the forefront of office discussions.

But, much less reported, although with the same increase in frequency, is other more localised cyber crime activity that affects the bottom line of local businesses and private persons alike.

Cyber crime in South Africa has evolved, along with the mainstream adoption of technology, but the criminal justice system and expertise is not changing fast enough to keep up with the new challenges and demands that cyber crime is putting on both the state and the private sector.

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South Africa already has the following legislation that deals with cyber crime: The Electronic Communications and Transactions Act 2002; the Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act 2002; the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act; and the National Cybersecurity Policy Framework. But none of the abovementioned legislation specifically deals with cyber crime and cyber security.

Cyber crime, and cyber security, is an extremely complex field, with cyber criminals employing complex methods, from various geographical and jurisdictional areas, each with their own cyber laws, which really complicates the investigation and prosecution of cyber crimes and cyber criminals.

The new Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill, tabled in Parliament in February 2017, aims to address much of the current legislation shortcomings and align South African cyber crime and security legislation with the likes of Europe. But legislation alone won’t solve the myriad problems that cyber crime creates. For South Africa to be able to effectively combat cyber crime, it needs to be able to successfully investigate cyber crimes, which must then lead to successful convictions and possible recovery of stolen funds.

To be able to successfully combat cyber crime as outlined above, we need to produce a skilled base of cyber crime investigators, both in the private sector and in the state. This skilled base needs to be trained to align forensic cyber investigations with the criminal justice system in South Africa to be truly effective.

The Cyber Security Institute will be having an information session on cyber investigations next week in Gauteng. Please visit if you are interested in attending, or if you want to find out more about the training the institute offers.

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