Cybersecurity programme overview
The LINK Centre Cybersecurity perogramme is led by Wits Visiting Researcher Dr Kiru Pillay, who is Chief Director: Cybersecurity Operations at the South African Department of Telecommunications and Postal Services (DTPS); and Wits Visiting Senior Lecturer Dr Uche Mbanaso, who heads the Centre for Cyberspace Studies (CCS) at Nasarawa State University, Keffi, Nigeria.
The introduction of information and communication technologies (ICTs) into many aspects of everyday life has led to the development of the modern concept of the information society. The availability of ICTs and new network-based services offers a number of advantages for society in general, especially for developing countries. ICT applications, such as those in support of e-government, e-commerce, e-education, e-health and e-environment, are seen as enablers for development, as they provide an efficient channel to deliver a wide range of basic services. Indeed, ICT applications can facilitate the achievement of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, reducing poverty and improving health and environmental conditions in developing countries.
However, the growth of the information society is also accompanied by new and serious threats. Essential services such as water and electricity supply now rely on ICTs, as do most businesses and organisations, as well as citizens. Attacks against information infrastructure and internet services are now commonplace, and the year 2017, in particular, saw a large number of global incidents and data breaches. Numerous large-scale data breaches have released citizens’ personal and financial information into the public domain.
These attacks have placed the spotlight firmly on how governments and organisations are taking up the challenge of securing information systems, critical infrastructure and citizen’s information, while at the same time playing their roles in building confidence in the ability to use the internet to access services and transact safely. The domain of cybersecurity has now been firmly established both within academia and as a practice in industry and government.
LINK's Cybersecurity programme is focused on development of:
- academic capacity
- research capacity
- training and awareness
In support of development of academic capacity, LINK is currently enrolling students who wish to register for either a Master's or PhD with a cybersecurity focus. These programmes are by research only, with no course work, except for completion of the Research Methods module.
There is a dearth of empirical data relating to cybersecurity. The number of breaches, and the ranking of countries in relation to most attacked, are two examples of statements that are often quoted with little empirical data to support this. Also, the emerging regulatory environment and the need for evidence-based policymaking make it vital that more research is conducted into the area of cybersecurity. Accordingly, the LINK Centre is partnering with the Cyber Readiness Index 2.0 (CRI 2.0) team at the Potomac Institute for Policy Studies (PIPS) in Washington, DC, to collect, expand, and corroborate baseline data on cyber readiness, plans, policies, and capabilities about South Africa and other countries in the region. The joint team will also develop an in-depth analysis of South Africa’s cybersecurity-related efforts and capabilities based on the CRI 2.0 methodology, which will be published by PIPS in 2018.
The CRI 2.0 provides a methodology to assess countries’ readiness in respect to closing the gap between their current cybersecurity posture and the national cyber capabilities needed to support their digital future. The methodology seeks to bring transparency to the economic losses caused by cyber insecurity and encourages countries to align their national economic visions and security priorities.
CRI 2.0 country reports are based on over 70 indicators across seven essential elements, in order to discern operationally ready activities and identify areas for improvement in the respect of: national strategy, incident response, e-crime and law enforcement, information-sharing, investment in research and development (R&D), diplomacy and trade, and defense and crisis response.
Training and awareness
The LINK Centre is in the process of developing the Wits Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) Certificate short course programme aimed at equipping senior managers and business leaders to optimally navigate the cybersecurity terrain. In addition, LINK will be hosting master classes and seminars, on the core themes of our Cybersecurity programme, at the Wits Tshimologong Digital Innovation Precinct where LINK Is based, at 41 Juta St., Braamfontein, Johannesburg.