‘African enterprises require holistic cybersecurity strategies’

Country Manager, Microsoft Nigeria, Ola Williams, has posited that a consistent cloud migration strategy that focuses on keeping data integrity intact from the start is key.

According to Williams, the strategy must also be holistic, including ongoing regulatory compliance and, importantly, employee cybersecurity awareness.

She stated that as more enterprises embrace the public cloud, a crucial factor is often overlooked on this point: cybersecurity is a shared responsibility between the customer (the enterprise and its employees) and the provider.

“For example, if an enterprise stores its data in a data centre, it must proactively set up and manage its own cybersecurity policies. Cybersecurity must, therefore, include the entire organisation and not just be siloed with the CIO and IT function, or even the provider”, she advised.

Emphasising further, she noted that this is why it’s essential to have the right cloud provider as a partner when undertaking cloud migration.

She said, “A security-first partner like Microsoft has Zero Trust built into its cloud architecture and cloud-based solutions, whether public or hybrid and can provide valuable guidance throughout an enterprise’s digital transformation journey. In fact, Microsoft boasts more than 3,500 full-time security professionals who use AI to analyse more than 24 trillion signals a day across email, endpoints, and identities.

“The impact of the COVID-19 pandemic forced more businesses to connect online than ever before. Remote and hybrid working environments have also meant that more devices, networks, and connection points have expanded the threat surface, bringing the need for a robust and holistic security strategy to the fore. As enterprises across the continent continue to ramp up their digital transformation journey, security must be considered every step of the way to ensure a safer digital environment for all.”

According to Gartner, global cloud spending is forecast to reach $178 billion in 2022, and although Africa may lag behind the rest of the world’s cloud adoption with only 15 per cent cloud penetration, the continent’s public cloud market has doubled in the past three years.

To remain competitive in a digitally transformed business environment, agile enterprises around the world have also adopted cloud technology to enable new ways of working for their distributed, remote and hybrid workforces. And this new way of working isn’t going anywhere: 60 per cent of global knowledge workers are currently remote, and at least 18 per cent will not return to the office. Africa has embraced this trend too.

According to a 2022 International Labour Organisation report that covered more than 1,000 enterprises in 15 African countries, nearly 36 per cent of employees worked remotely during the pandemic.

The report also reveals that while most future workplaces in Africa won’t be fully remote, they will be either in-person or hybrid.

Enterprise-wide cloud adoption is increasing as digital-first business leaders look to ensure flexibility through hybrid work, market agility, and business continuity throughout their daily operations.

She, however, noted that when a rapid digital evolution is not approached strategically with end-to-end security in mind, it can leave enterprises more vulnerable to cybersecurity threats due to a wider set of risks spread across multiple surfaces and entry points. This is particularly important during a cloud migration when the rush to move business-critical workflows from on-premise to the cloud can unintentionally (and easily) open backdoors to bad actors.