February 23, 2021

Is your legacy system leaving you exposed to cyber threats?

By Byron Gibson, Product Manager at SEACOM

Technology is increasingly becoming the only way for businesses to remain competitive and relevant. This is why so many successful companies are prioritising digital transformation and embarking on a journey to implement new technological systems that improve business processes, offerings and the customer experience. However, without the necessary tools in place, these ideas, innovations and privacy can be compromised by cyber attacks.

Most businesses are aware that cyber security is important, but many are still not sure how to adequately secure their data and intellectual property. In 2020, a US healthcare giant called Universal Healthcare Services was a victim of one of the largest ransomware attacks in recent history. All 400 branches were compromised by the attack and it took the company more than three weeks to bring all systems back online.

Similarly, in 2020, Experian suffered a hack that exposed the personal details of 24-million South Africans and just under 794 000 businesses. Just two days before this incident, Momentum Metropolitan experienced a data breach that affected their administrative and financial records. These orchestrated cyber attacks can lead to devastating losses to businesses and their clients. Obviously, the resulting reputational damage can be crippling for a company.

Governments are not immune either

Government departments can also be vulnerable to cyber crime. In June 2020, the Ethiopian Information Network Security Agency was targeted by an Egyptian hacker group called Cyber Horus Group. The cyber terrorists hacked the government websites, posting messages that threatened war if Ethiopia began filling a dam on the Nile River. This has been a continued topic of tension between the two countries.

These sorts of attacks lead businesses and governments to ask the questions; “What are the risks of continuing with a current legacy system and security software?”, “What are the benefits of outsourcing IT security to a third-party?” and “How do we ensure that customers and their personal data are protected from all manner of cyber threats?”.

Weighing up the options

Companies need to evaluate their current system capabilities and vulnerabilities. They need to look at the type of security system, how much it costs and how functional it will be. Established businesses that have yet to truly embark on their digital transformation journeys are likely still using legacy systems that are vulnerable to attacks, failures and interruptions. Many of these organisations still use on-premise computer backups and email security, which have fast become outdated.

Budget constraints, IT priorities and the complexity of replacing existing components and systems are all valid excuses for companies, but outdated systems need to be upgraded and replaced for maximum security. The old saying “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” can put enterprises at risk, so they need to address their priorities and move their old legacy systems to the top of the list.

Legacy systems come with familiarity and greater understanding, which may seem effective - especially if the company is relatively small and doesn’t need elaborate software to manage its security and database tracking. These systems have worked for years, so change can seem daunting and an option that can be put off for a while longer.

Legacy systems leave a company at risk

What these companies fail to realise is that legacy systems have their own sets of challenges that may only become apparent when it’s too late. Fixing vulnerabilities can cost businesses more in time and money, rather than making the effort to upgrade the system now. The fact is that legacy systems are more vulnerable to hacks, ransomware, malware and a variety of other cyber threats.

Many security software manufacturers have a deadline on support for their systems. They stop producing updates and bug fixes after a certain amount of time. This means that cyber criminals can exploit unpatched vulnerabilities and gain access to a business network more easily. The resulting damage is likely to be far more costly than the system upgrade.

The best way to avoid these threats is to replace the legacy system and speed up your digital transformation. Invest in IT security systems that are modern and effective. Choose security partners and providers that offer support, as well as improved performance and reliability. This will improve the scalability, agility and maintenance of the new system.

Modern security systems have higher security standards

It goes without saying that modern IT security software and systems offer better standards and protection. Compared to legacy systems that lack sufficient encryption, multifactor authentication, single sign-on and role-based access, modern solutions prevent malicious threats by using several protocols. If a hacker manages to access one part of the business network, they will not be able to move freely to another section.

This means that enterprises have better security of their databases, networks and IT systems. Businesses need to realise that cyber security is a never-ending quest that needs constant upgrading and improvement. Cyber criminals are intelligent and are constantly developing new ways of accessing business networks. IT security systems need to evolve and continue to offer effective protection.

Companies must consider IT security partners that understand their goals and needs in order to provide the best solutions possible. These security systems must be scalable and keep up with business growth and expansion. Setting a strong and secure foundation will ensure greater security in the long run. For more information or to get a quote for our IT security solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s most extensive network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including subsea cables and secure internet connections. We offer a diverse range of flexible, scalable and high-quality solutions for businesses that meet world-class standards for connectivity.

SEACOM is privately owned and operated, making it agile and adaptable to the needs of the customer. This makes us the preferred ICT and internet connectivity partner for African businesses and peripheral service providers. We can guarantee high-speed, low-latency and secure internet connections to corporates and small enterprises.

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