The cyber-threats and security risks that threaten the banking industry have the potential to cause significant damage, as has been evident in past incidents that have led to monumental losses of both funds and financial data. It’s important for banks to define, understand and mitigate the cybersecurity risks. 

We caught up with Itumeleng Makgati, Group Executive: Information Security at Standard Bank Group in South Africa, one of the largest banks in Africa. 

The Banking Transformation Africa’s team spoke to Itumeleng to learn more about the cyber-risks that threaten the security of the banking industry in Africa and gain her insights into what needs to be done to make the banking sector a more secure one. 

What is the current state of the cyber-threat landscape across the banking industry in Africa?

Banks are moving in the right direction around security breaches, but there is always room for improvement. I believe the basics of cybersecurity are improving and cyber resilience is on the rise. We are getting better at preventing direct cyberattacks. But in the continuously evolving world of cybersecurity, attackers have already moved on to indirect targets, such as vendors and other third parties in the supply chain. It is a situation that creates new battlegrounds for banking.

What are the greatest cyber-risks that currently threaten the banking industry?

Ransomware has become the biggest threat out there: we see information about major incidents regularly. We continue to observe a lot of activity coming from bank card sniffers and Trojans with advanced functionality that includes intercepting SMS messages, compromising credentials, and stealing money from bank accounts.

What are the key requirements for ensuring better information security for the banking industry?

Banks do not necessarily need to spend the most money to improve their security posture—they may even spend less money.  Strength lies in efficiency and a balanced approach: Prioritise speed:  invest on improving operational speed, specifically how quickly they can detect a breach, how quickly they can respond and how quickly they can resume normal operations; Scale more and Train more, we should not underestimate the value of having a strong security culture in the bank.

Itumeleng Makgati will be speaking at the Cybersecurity in Digital Banking focus day at the upcoming Banking Transformation Africa virtual summit on 13 September 2021. Join her here

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