The Worrying State Of Africa’s Digital Security

The African Heads of States and Governments pose during African Union (AU) Summit for the agreement to establish the African Continental Free Trade Area in Kigali, Rwanda, on March 21, 2018. (Photo by STR / AFP)

June 8, 2019//-The state of today’s industries leads experts to one conclusion – data is currency. There is an alarming increase in data breaches as of late, and it’s simply because companies that store huge amounts of information are a treasure trove for hackers.

What’s more?

The attacks might grow larger from here on out. That means companies will have to keep up with cyber security. In turn, consumers will have to be more discerning as to who they share their data with.

South Africans are now very wary when it comes to sharing their data. In fact, they no longer trust companies with keeping their information safe.

The dent in the consumer-company trust was made during a massive data breach in 2017, which saw millions of personal information being compromised. Unfortunately, that wasn’t the first or last data breach case in South Africa.

Here’s the thing

According to a recent survey of 1,007 respondents from more than nine South African provinces by Tech Central, 83% were concerned about their data’s security.

As many as 64% of respondents knew a victim of a data breach personally. Furthermore, 94% were concerned about their identity, while 92% were worried about their financial data and 80% for their health-related data.

The biggest takeaway here is that the trust has been broken. South African citizens will find it harder to trust the companies they make transactions with.

Of course, this will greatly limit the services they can use. The problem goes even deeper, since people will trust the government even less.

While the problem is currently present and growing worse, that isn’t to say that there isn’t anything that the firms in questions can do.

African Firms Are still Prone to Data Breaches

According to research made by the University of South Africa, there is a huge gap between the privacy that consumers want and are entitled to and what companies are doing to meet these demands.

What’s even more surprising is that companies are unable to comply, even though they already have guidelines to follow with the Protection of Personal Information Act. This legislation is expected to propel South Africa to the standards already set by over 120 countries.


It’s 2019, and even the biggest firms are failing to comply. According to the 2019 Ranking Digital Rights report, Africa’s biggest communication firm is already making improvements with regards to protecting their client’s digital rights. However, they are still way behind what international firms are doing.

The report included data from 24 of the world’s biggest communications companies, which help handle social networking services, search engines, and more.

One of the evaluated companies was Africa’s own telco, MTN Group, which operates in 22 markets in Africa and the Middle East. In total, it has over 220 million subscribers.

The thing is

 Regarding privacy, the South African firm gave little information on what data it collects, how long it holds on to it, and whether or not it grants access to third-party firms.

MTN also didn’t say anything about how it handles data breaches. Furthermore, MTN didn’t disclose its details regarding the privacy-related risks with its advertising services.

In closing, the report stated that MTN did not have a clear commitment regarding the protection of net neutrality. MTN “did not sufficiently disclose its policies for handling government network shutdown orders,” the report said.

Aside from tighter security measures, South African firms are failing to provide transparency to their consumers. This will further hamper the consumer-company relationship.

If another major data breach occurs, there’s no telling just how much trust will be lost. While technology seems to be moving forward, it seems more and more like African firms are taking a step back, and this is gravely affecting their citizens.

The problem is real, but there are possible solutions. Sooner rather than later, African companies will need to let their customers and clients know that they are to be trusted.

To do this, they will need to meet the standard being set by others and, if possible, they should go above it.

The world’s reliance on data and information will only grow stronger, and cyber attacks will remain a clear and present danger.

African Eye Report 


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