Tech headache for executives in South Africa

 ·8 Oct 2023

South African executives are concerned about cloud security, with the tech sector feeling the impact of the domestic skills crisis.

In a local survey with responses from 500 CTOs, Directors, C-suite respondents and business owners, 89% of South African business leaders said that cloud security is a major concern.

The insights show that businesses are looking to overcome major barriers in cloud adoption, including cybersecurity (37%) and a lack of technical skills (39%), which limits the business’s ability to harness the strengths of the cloud.

“The same things that are happening in security from a global perspective are happening in South Africa,” said Gary Peel, Cloud BDM, Africa at Fortinet.

“Security is not geographically isolated. So, whether you’re in SA or the US, you’ve still got the same people trying to attack your systems.”

Interestingly, Fortinet’s 2023 Global Cloud Security report said that the biggest cloud-related threat globally is the threat to the public cloud at 59%, whilst this issue ranks fourth at 39.8% in South Africa.

This suggests that South Africa mainly focuses on basic security risks, while more mature markets have moved to a higher risk level.

South Africa’s cloud computing market is growing quickly following the introduction of big cloud infrastructure players, such as AWS in 2018 and Microsoft Azure in 2019.

“South Africa may be a late adopter, but most of our customers are already using some kind of cloud technology. Industries like FSI are leading the way. They understand the value of the cloud and how it supports rapid innovation in a cost-effective manner—even though their industry is the most stringent regarding compliance,” said Peel.

The study reveals that 35.8% of South African businesses host more than 50% of their workload in the cloud in comparison with 39% globally, suggesting South Africa is not far behind the race to digitise.

“Getting the right people in the organisation to manage and secure the cloud platform is often an issue,” adds Peel.

“Collaboration between the cloud and security teams means overcoming a clash of cultures. The security team is viewed as the legacy team, and the cloud team wants to keep pace with business demands. But they need to work together to keep the company’s data secure rather than be reactive after a data breach.”

Pros and cons

Although there are plenty of benefits for businesses in South Africa, specific issues limit cloud migration, the largest of which is a lack of technical skills.

“With the global market becoming more competitive, SA is losing a lot of its security engineers to global opportunities, creating a deficit in local talent,” Peel added.

Gary Peel

Upskilling in cybersecurity can thus have several benefits for South African companies, such as improved performance (59.4%), flexibility and scalability (55.6%), and improved availability and business continuity (48%).

Both global and South African organisations have expressed their intention to send more resources towards cloud security, with origination planning to increase their cloud security budget in the coming year

In South Africa, the main forces are defending against malware (65.2%), cloud security training (62%), and preventing cloud misconfigurations (56.4%). The main driver for cloud-based security in South Africa is cost savings, whilst the global priority is better scalability.

“Having the right frameworks in place is key for creating secure cloud platforms and ensuring network governance. These frameworks can also include things like identity and access management policies,” Peel said.

“Without that in place, you’re working with a messy and complex data environment. It’s important to create a culture of cost and security ownership to successfully migrate to the cloud.”

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