NMMU workshop focuses on cyber security

OCTOBER 26, 2015

With cyber-crime a concern world-wide, the head of the Hawks Electronic Crime Unit will share insights on information and security at an event at Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University (NMMU) on Friday.

The morning-long seminar forms part of the official launch of the Centre for Research in Information and Cyber Security (CRICS) in the School of Information and Communication Technology.

With presentations around the extramarital Ashley Madison exposure case and various high-profile cyber crimes investigated by the Hawks, the new Centre will further highlight its role in educating the public as to the realities of cyber crime.

“It is important for us to point out to people what to look out for and what they can do to be more aware of their safety in cyber space,” says CRICS Director Prof Rossouw von Solms, who has worked in this field for the past 25 years.

“Our niche research area is the human aspect of information security.”

Four presentations will be given.

In July 2015, a group calling itself "The Impact Team" stole the user data of Ashley Madison, a commercial website billed as enabling extramarital affairs.

The group copied personal information about the site's user base, and threatened to release users' names and personally identifying information if Ashley Madison was not immediately shut down.

In mid-August, the group leaked more than 25 gigabytes of company data, including user details. This hack put the cat among the pigeons as far as online privacy is concerned.

Four NMMU staff members of the School of ICT – Profs Reinhardt Botha, Johan van Niekerk, Kerry-Lynn Thomson and Mariana Gerber - will cover the privacy perspective on the incident, explain how the hack occurred, share the lessons learnt about online consumer behaviour and those about the governance of online businesses. 

Brigadier Piet Pieterse – Hawks

Brigadier Piet Pieterse will give one of four presentations at a morning-long seminar that forms part of the launch of the Centre for Research in Information and Cyber Security (CRICS) in the School of Information and Communication Technology at NMMU.

Brig Pieterse joined the South African Police Service (SAPS) on 1 December 1979 where he was assigned to the Detective Services from 1983. Today, Brig Pieterse heads the Electronic Crime Unit.    

He has extensive exposure to the investigation of cyber-crime, specifically to the broader financial/banking platform. 

Dr Jackie Phahlamohlaka – CSIR

The Council for Scientific and Industrial Research’s (CSIR) Dr Jackie Phahlamohlaka will discuss the recently published; “Draft Cybercrimes and Cybersecurity Bill” as well as other South African initiatives to protect South African interests and stakeholders from cyber-related risks.

Dr Phahlamohlaka completed an MSc in Computational and Applied Mathematics at Dalhousie University in Canada and a PhD in Informatics from the University of Pretoria. He is currently the Competency Area Manager of the Command, Control and Information Warfare (CCIW) within the CSIR.  He currently is a member of the Strategic Research Panel at the CSIR, a body within the CSIR which advises the CSIR Executive.

Dr Phahlamohlaka completed the Executive National Security Programme (ENSP) from the South African National Defence College in 2007. He has since supervised more than 40 Commandant Research Papers (CRPs) in subsequent Programmes of the College as well as being a regular presenter on the topic of Broadband Access and National Security, with an ICT focus on Cybersecurity.

His research interests are in ICT and socio-economic development, web-based group support systems, and most recently, broadband access and national security. Dr Phahlamohlaka has published extensively and supervised many honours, masters and PhD students.

Prof Basie von Solms – University of Johannesburg

Prof Basie von Solms, Research Professor in the Academy for Computer Science and Software Engineering at the University of Johannesburg (UJ) and the Director of the ITU-UJ Centre for Cyber Security of UJ is another speaker.

He will review the epic cyber security attack on Target, a huge US retail group, as well as the downstream consequences, like the firing of the CEO and the massive class action legal case now being made against the company by customers who lost their data.

He obtained his PhD in Computer Science at UJ (formerly the Rand Afrikaans University) and has been lecturing Computer Science and IT at this University since 1 October 1970. He specialises in research and consultancy in the area of information security, information security governance, cyber security and critical information infrastructure protection.

In 2011 the Board of IFIP appointed Prof von Solms as the general conference Chair and also International Programme Committee Chair of the IFIP World Computer Congress scheduled for September 2012 in Amsterdam, The Netherlands.

Also in 2011 Prof von Solms was awarded the Alumni Achievers award by NMMU, where he started his academic studies 1965 when it was still the University of Port Elizabeth.

Enquiries can be directed to Prof Rossouw von Solms at [email protected]

Image: Crics team; At the back Joe van Niekerk Rossouw von Solms and Reinhardt Botha. In front are Lynn Futcher, Kerry-Lynn Thomson and Mariana Gerber.