By Chickelle Woody
The U.S. Mission to South Africa conducted outreach through a collaborative campaign that focused on providing cybersecurity awareness to the local government, students at universities and high schools, and NGOs in the KwaZulu-Natal, Western Cape, and Gauteng provinces of South Africa. The cybersecurity team—which included Mission staff from the Bureau of Information Resource Management, Public Affairs and Economic sections, and the Regional Cyber Security Office—engaged audiences by providing best practices and resources through interactive presentations, roundtable discussions, and a social media campaign.
During presentations, the team employed the use of Sli.do technology, a web-based interactive tool, which kept their audiences involved using real-time polls and allowed them to solicit feedback during each session. The team also used visual aids which helped facilitate exchanges on cybersecurity best practices.
In coordination with the public affairs office at Consulate General Durban, the team hosted a presentation featuring Ebrahim Asmal, the Cisco instructor at the Durban University of Technology. More than 150 university STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) students attended, and when prompted, the students Sli.do responses showed that they were already well-versed in general cybersecurity awareness which allowed for a robust discussion on privacy regulations and pending legislation. Consulate General Cape Town coordinated a similar presentation that was attended by more than 250 students and their Sli.do answers revealed that they were not as informed in cybersecurity, which provoked a deeper discussion.
The team also hosted a roundtable event at Embassy Pretoria with Sorene Asefa, the founder and managing director of Cyber Czar Ltd., which focused on increasing women’s participation and career interest in cybersecurity. At a second roundtable discussion with five decision-making government officials from the South African Local Government Association, the team emphasized personal accountability and stressed the importance of taking proactive steps to enhance cybersecurity in the workplace.
Overall, the team brought together a breadth of experience that helped answer a multitude of technical and policy-related questions and resulted in an effective campaign to enhance cybersecurity awareness and best practices throughout the South African region.
Chickelle Woody is an information system security officer at Embassy Pretoria.