Big boost for fight against bank scams in South Africa

The Special Investigating Unit (SIU) has entered into collaboration with the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) to use new technology to curb fraud, corruption and cyber-related crimes in South Africa.

On Monday (22 August), Andy Mothibi, the head of the SIU and Thulani Dlamini, the CEO of the CSIR, signed a memorandum of understanding expressing their commitment to sharing expertise and skills to drive research and development in the fields of data science, information and cyber security.

According to the SABRIC Annual Crime Statistics, there has been a significant increase in the number of cybercrimes, with 35,307 incidents across banking apps, mobile banking and online banking in 2020 compared to 26,567 in 2019.

Cybersecurity and anti-virus provider Kaspersky said that government departments, organisations across industry sectors, regardless of size, and individuals face the constant risk of being victims of a cyber attack – and the threat is growing.

Kaspersky reported that from January to April this year, ransomware attacks in South Africa have doubled when compared to 2021.

Ransomeware locks a system until a ransom is paid for its release; this has become the most significant cyber threat in South Africa, said Kaspersky.

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Both the SIU and the CSIR agreed to collaborate on a variety of strategic areas, which include enhancing data analytics and sharing, digital forensics, information and cybersecurity, artificial intelligence, distributed ledger technology or blockchain and cyber infrastructure support.

The partnership will see capability building in the development of digital investigation tools, digital forensic investigations and analysis, and cloud and high-performance computing to uproot cybercrimes before they occur.

Our partnership with the CSIR is in line with the SIU’s strategy of detecting fraud and corruption early and having systems in place that prevent these crimes, said Mothibi.

“We live in a digitised world, and criminals are using technology to their advantage – we cannot be left behind. The expertise and technology that the CSIR is offering the SIU are needed in order to fulfil our mandate. We cannot fight crime alone, which is why this partnership is important to the SIU,” said Mothibi.

Dlamini from the SIU said: “The fight against corruption and cybercrimes is a major issue in South Africa. The work that we do contributes to ensuring that we support a capable state.”

Through this partnership, the CSIR will utilise its research competency to assist the SIU with the necessary technological solutions to tackle cybercrimes, said Dlamini.

“Our team of experts in data science, information security, as well as cybersecurity, blockchain and artificial intelligence, are ready to assist,” said Dr Dlamini.

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