The president recently signed the Electronic Communications Security Act – intended to prevent the theft of the South Africa’s strategic information.
Government established the Act in order to form a state-owned company, to be known as Electronic Communications Security (Comsec), that will be responsible for developing, designing, procuring, inventing, installing and maintaining secure electronic communications systems in all government departments and points that have been identified as key national assets. The Act was sponsored by the Minister of Intelligence.
Says Lorna Daniels, National Intelligence Agency spokesperson: “It was necessary to establish a body that would be responsible for protecting the country’s sensitive information from prying eyes, and this includes both hackers and unwanted intruders in the form of other governments. This sensitive information does not exist purely within government only, it also applies to certain inventions and processes that are unique to SA (South Africa) and regarded as precious national assets.”
With SA increasingly coming into the limelight on the international stage because of its role in Nepad and other such projects, it would be foolhardy not to ensure that sensitive information is protected during the course of communication. In this respect, Comsec will have to put in place the most secure methods of communication in both the paper and electronic environments.
Daniels comments that there have been security breaches all over the world, with countries having data stolen by other nations. While she would not say how frequently it has happened in SA, she would not deny that such breaches have occurred.
The Act is not in force yet and will only become effective once the Minister of Intelligence, Lindiwe Sisulu, has set the wheels in motion by appointing a board of directors for Comsec.