from DION HENRICK in Cape Town
CAPE TOWN, (CAJ News) – SOUTH African innovators are committed to making the internet safer for vulnerable users.
The pledge comes as cyber criminals are putting these individuals and communities at increased risk, which is cause for significant concern as the fourth industrial revolution (4IR) is fast-tracked and the world moves to digital.
The innovators are seeking solutions under the aegis of the 2021 Gov-X Innovation challenge.
The Gov-X Innovation Challenge is a cyber-themed learning programme and hackathon.
It is a public-private sector collaboration aiming to inspire the next generation of tech entrepreneurs and specialists to tackle challenges of cyber security and online gender-based violence.
Among stakeholders involved are CyberSecurity Hub, Department of Communications and Digital Technologies, BCX, Bi-Tech Africa, Bi-Technologies, Blck Rhino, KnowBe4, NClose, TrendMicro and University of the Western Cape: Future-Innovation Lab.
Pinky Kekana, South Africa’s Deputy Minister of Communications and Digital Technology, noted that the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting in Davos had recognised cyber security as one of the top 11 impact areas this year.
She noted that future prosperity depended on next generation technologies.
Kekana said there was therefore an urgent need for collective action, policy intervention and improved accountability on the part of government and business to maintain the integrity and trust of emergent technologies.
This is imperative in a world now reliant on digital technologies.
“The WEF has been clear,” she said.
“We need a new approach to how technologies are harnessed and regulated to accelerate growth, encourage innovation and build resilience in the wake of COVID-19.”
A hackathon is seen as a holistic intervention to address the top cyber security challenges.
The African Feminist Research for a Feminist Internet Report, 2020, established that when perpetrators were reported to the platform in South Africa, they were only banned from the platform in 15 percent of the cases.
Anna Collard, Senior Vice President of Content Strategy and Evangelist at KnowBe4 Africa, cited this.
She also cited other research indicating that around 39 percent of women in Africa were concerned about going online due to the risk of online GBV.
“There are organisations helping GBV victims in general, but few if any to help victims of online GBV,” Collard said.
“It’s not ‘nothing’: victims suffer, and they often have to get off the platform or reinvent their digital identity, but currently law enforcement is not equipped to understand the problem.”
Collard reiterated on the need to address this risk to ensure the digital world was safe and inclusive.
The themes that are set to be tackled at the hackathon include supporting the national competency via the National Computer Security Incident Response team (CSIRT), helping to curb online GBV and provide assistance to victims, and raising cyber security awareness within communities.
Prizes include R100 000 (US$6 631) for first place, R30 000 for second place and R10 000 for the third runner-up.
Additional prizes include internships in the sponsor’s organizations as well as bursaries for cyber security qualifications.
– CAJ News