Navigating the Cybersecurity Landscape: Insights from SA’s Top Leaders

In today’s interconnected digital world, one truth has become abundantly clear: Cybersecurity is everyone’s business.

As we plunge deeper into the digital age, the importance of safeguarding sensitive information and protecting critical systems has skyrocketed. To gain a better understanding of the challenges facing the realm of cyber and information security in 2023, we engaged with some of South Africa’s foremost leaders in the field. Their collective insights paint a vivid picture of the complex landscape and shed light on the overarching themes that dominate their concerns.

The Overarching Themes: Buy-in, Skills Shortage, and AI Concerns

Across the board, a few recurring themes emerge as the bedrock challenges faced by these cybersecurity experts.

The first among these is the struggle to secure buy-in across organisations. Muyowa Mutemwa, a seasoned expert holding an impressive array of certifications, highlights the challenge of effective communication between cybersecurity experts and business leaders.
He aptly notes, “There’s a lot more to it than just what’s the ROI?” This underscores the necessity of bridging the gap between cybersecurity minds and business minds, emphasising the need for a comprehensive understanding of cybersecurity’s far-reaching implications.

The skills shortage is another thread that binds these leaders’ concerns. Anthea Kruger, General Manager at MTN, points out the ongoing battle to retain skilled professionals in the ever-evolving cybersecurity space. Anthea particularly underscores the challenge of keeping pace with emerging technologies and their swift adoption.

The lack of alignment between cyber strategy and business strategy exacerbates this issue, further complicating the uphill task of nurturing a robust cybersecurity workforce.

Artificial Intelligence (AI), while a powerful tool in cybersecurity, also brings forth its own set of concerns. The rise of AI has prompted unease about its risks and implications. Ayanda Peta, an expert well-versed in Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, and AI, raises a pertinent challenge: “The increasing rate of phishing campaigns.” This aligns with the collective sentiment among our leaders that AI regulations and the potential threats it introduces are essential considerations in the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape.

Insights from the Frontlines: Voices of SA’s Cybersecurity Leaders

Let’s delve into the insights provided by these seasoned cybersecurity professionals:
Muyowa Mutemwa emphasises the need for funding for proper cybersecurity systems and the imperative of data privacy. He asserts, “Businesses don’t always know where to start; they just know they need to be compliant.”

Galeboe Mogotsi, General Manager at WITS, highlights the uphill battle of garnering board-level buy-in and aligning cyber strategy with overarching business goals. He underlines, “Cybersecurity is not taken as seriously as it should be at board level.”

Amukelani Emily Manganyi, leading Cyber Security Enablement & Business Engagement at Absa Group, confronts the challenge of balancing the business of security and the security of the business. She points out, “Tailoring messaging to all levels can be difficult.”

Ishaaq Jacobs, CISO at Sasol, tackles the intricate balance between maximising value and minimising costs, stressing the importance of measuring ROI on cybersecurity implementations and technology.

Ayanda Peta’s expertise in Cybersecurity, Cloud Computing, and AI unveils the pressing issue of phishing campaigns and the significance of change management in obtaining buy-in.

Anthea Kruger, spearheading Information Security Cyber Defence at MTN, echoes the prevalent skills shortage in the industry and the escalating risks linked to AI.

Aashika Bava, Head of Security Awareness Training at Investec, adds a crucial dimension by highlighting the importance of female empowerment and support in the tech space, alongside the enduring skills shortage.

In Conclusion: Safeguarding the Digital Frontier Together

As the digital realm continues to expand, the challenges facing cybersecurity professionals are manifold and complex. Yet, their unwavering commitment to securing our digital landscape remains resolute. The insights gleaned from these cybersecurity leaders underscore the need for collaboration, education, and strategic alignment across all levels of an organisation. Whether grappling with buy-in struggles, addressing the skills shortage, or navigating the uncharted waters of AI, one thing is clear: Cybersecurity is a collective endeavour that demands the engagement of every stakeholder. In the words of Muyowa Mutemwa, “There’s a lot more to it than just what’s the ROI?” This sentiment serves as a poignant reminder that in the digital age, the protection of our digital future is a responsibility we all share.

*The above-mentioned InfoSec leaders will discuss these challenges and more at CISO Kanect, a festival experience curated for InfoSec professionals taking place from 12-13 October 2023 at The Marriott Hotel in Melrose Arch, Johannesburg.
To join this fun initiative and learn from TED-style talks, reserve your spot before 31 August 2023 and Save R 2,500!