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Cybersecure Mauritius: A brave new world

Mauritius is the most committed country to cybersecurity in Africa. Globally, it comes in at number six—a shining example of good cyber practice for the rest of the continent. This can be ascribed largely to good policymaking and foresight on behalf of the business sector, which embraces a policy of email compliance and corporate governance in terms of the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (implemented in May 2018) and the Data Protection Act of Mauritius (implemented in December 2017). The objective of the data protection law was to attract European ICT companies to invest in the country—one of only a few outside Europe to feature such a law.

Cybercrime is an ever-increasing threat for businesses and governments throughout the world, and the business sector on the African continent is highly vulnerable to cyberattacks. Communication infrastructure is generally limited across the continent, yet the explosion of new technologies, particularly mobile technologies, in Africa renders the entire continent particularly vulnerable to attack because cybersecurity measures are still pretty low.

Tourism is a major revenue driver in Mauritius and the economy relies heavily on direct foreign investment as a consequence. A serious cyber-attack on any one or more of the bigger corporates could be disastrous for the country. Loss of trust and damage to the destination’s reputation could take years to rebuild, not to mention the damage that could be done to the financial well-being of business and resultant knock-on effects on the economy. In South Africa, a cyber-related data breach now costs a company on average of ZAR 36.5 million according to a 2018 Investec Bank report. You can follow this link to read more about the latest cyberattacks in South Africa.

Ignoring the reality of a cyberattack is no longer an option, as attacks such as the 2017 WannaCry ransomware attack clearly illustrate. The attack affected more than 200,000 users and 400,000 computers in 150 countries. More recently, and closer to home, Mauritian banking group SBM Holdings fell victim to cyber fraud in its Indian operation in late 2018, losing an estimated $14 million (about Sh1.4 billion).

Bolstering the cyber-protection effort in the SADC region are plans for Kenyan IT company Serianu to establish a cybersecurity training centre in Mauritius. The facility will have the capacity to train about 500 locals a year on cyber-attack preparedness. The country was selected as a strategic location because of its established ICT policy frameworks, language diversity and central location within Southern Africa.

Meanwhile, plans are also afoot to establish a Regional Capacity Building Centre for Africa in Mauritius to deal with cybersecurity in COMESA and SADC countries. The idea is to formulate cybersecurity legislation for participating countries and to collaborate on combating cyberattacks.

Further forging cybersecurity ties in the country is the partnership formed in early 2018 between BDO IT Consulting and cybersecurity experts Grove to deliver advanced cybersecurity technologies. These include cutting-edge cyber-defence tools such as Mimecast, Mimecast Awareness Training (formerly known as Ataata) and Darktrace. Grove uses cutting-edge cloud computing, custom software development, cybersecurity and analytics to secure their 2,500 customers’ online environments. Its partnership with top international cybersecurity experts such as Mimecast and Darktrace offers an essential safety net for businesses to mitigate against cyber-threats.

‘We provide state-of-the-art cybersecurity to protect all aspects of our clients’ businesses, including email and networks,’ says Grove Strategic Partnerships and Innovation Director Chad Bartlett.

BDO IT Consulting manager Krishna Radhakeesoon says the key to good cyber-defence is to have a solid plan and form strategic technology partnerships. ‘It’s important for businesses to realise that they have to set up bespoke technology solutions before attacks happen. The bad guys won’t give you much time to react,’ he says.

In 2018, Grove increased its focus within the Mauritian market place, and it intends to continue expanding its footprint on the island. Among some of the recent strategic relationships formed is that with the IBL Group, a leading international conglomerate in Mauritius, and one of its largest employers. It entered into a one-year deal with Grove to supply the Mimecast targeted threat protection and email branding services to head-office users initially, to be rolled out to the rest of the group in due course.

‘African businesses can no longer adopt a business-as-usual approach in their IT departments,’ says Group Information and Technology Executive Laurent Fayolle. ‘It is essential to strengthen cyber-risk protection systems in a world that is becoming more and more connected. Financial and reputational survival, even local and regional economies, depend on a cybersecure environment.’

Also coming on board with Grove recently were the Vatel Group, the Taylor Smith Group, Veranda Leisure and Hospitality (VLH) Management, and Swan General Ltd (SWAN).

Vatel, a business school that services hospitality and tourism, and Taylor Smith, a diversified group that employs 800 people across diverse business units, have both rolled out the Mimecast targeted threat protection services to 450 and 320 users, respectively. Both came on-board in three-year deals showing their long-term commitment to cyber defences in response to increasing cyber attacks. To illustrate, Vatel experienced 400 phishing attacks on its email environment in a single day, and generally receives 10 to 15 email impersonation attempts daily.

‘Vatel simply cannot afford the risk of security breaches,’ says IT and Maintenance Manager Dinesh Khoody. ‘We have to protect our intellectual property and business information against theft and abuse without disrupting our activities and impairing productivity.’

Vatel Mauritius CEO Renaud Azema agrees, saying it is becoming increasingly important to put in place solid cybersecurity strategies. ‘It is imperative that our strategies are robust and that we review them frequently. Technology develops at breakneck speed, and so does the sophistication of cybercriminals, who find evermore innovative ways of breaching systems.’

As an elite Mimecast partner in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Grove has the full support of the regional Mimecast executive team to ensure rollout is successfully implemented and each new company is on-boarded seamlessly. Following the acquisition of Ataata, Mimecast now offers Awareness Training to help reduce human error in the workplace and this adds value to our proposition to the Mauritian marketplace.

‘We help organisations achieve cyber resilience by not only focussing on improving defences but helping them to prepare for every stage of a cyberattack. We do this by providing comprehensive security controls before, continuity during, and automated recovery after an attack,’ says Mimecast Coastal Partner Manager Tim Smith.

VLH LTD Management initially made use of Grove’s free proof-of-value offering and went on to acquire Darktrace Enterprise Immune System and Antigena in a three-year deal, while SWAN, a leading financial solutions provider in Mauritius, signed up for a similar deal.

Darktrace is a leading artificial intelligence (AI) company for cyber-defence.

‘We use self-learning AI to detect and fight back against cyber threats as they happen: our in-house R&D team develop cutting-edge immune system technology for cybersecurity. But, ultimately, no government can keep attackers out of organisations. As guardians of our data, organisations need to take responsibility for their own security and be able to identify malicious activity before it escalates into crisis. As cyber-attackers get faster and more furious, AI will go a long way to bolster business’ cyber resilience,’ says Darktrace Director for Africa Eleanor Weaver.

‘In the electronic space today, cybersecurity is no longer a want-to-have. To mitigate against loss of productivity, to prevent or curtail financial losses, to avoid prosecution penalties and associated expenditure, to protect companies’ intellectual property and sensitive information and, importantly, their reputation, it is a have-to-have, short and simple,’ says IT Operations Manager at SWAN Didier Adrien.

Stay ahead of cybercriminals. Find out how Grove's best-of-breed technology solutions can protect your business from cyber threats. Contact us today.

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Tags: Darktrace, Mimecast, Mimecast Awareness Training

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