Predictions for POPI compliance in the age of working from home

The IT industry in South Africa and the rest of the world is in disarray at the moment due to COIVD-19, but it’s worth looking to the future to see what the rest of 2020 and beyond looks like this industry, especially when it comes to the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act.

Weighing in on this issue is Terence Govender, the director of the IT Advisory division which has recently been created at Mazars.

“POPI is likely to come into effect in this year, which will expose businesses to significant regulatory pressure and possible fines in the event of cyber breaches. In addition to this, the national lockdown has forced many companies to put temporary measures in place to allow their employees remote access to their servers while working from home. Businesses need to start implementing more permanent solutions to sure-up the security of their systems, while still allowing a substantial part of their workforce to work from home. The corporate network has now extended to the home,” says Govender.

This dual threat of cyber security and regulation is nothing new as we’ve seen a steady uptick of this problems as companies find new ways for their employees to work while remaining safe. For that Govender makes a bold prediction – estimating that 60% of businesses will continue to allow employees to work from home when (and hopefully not if) the lockdown ends.

Kaspersky recently pointed out that 73 of surveyed workers are still waiting for cybersecurity guidance from their employers, making this kind of shift in the workforce all the more important, especially as POPI will hold these businesses accountable for mishandling of user data regardless.

Govender and the IT Advisory division at Mazars have made these further predictions for trends in the IT industry going forward. In it we can see a mix of general movements the industry would be making regardless, as well as those forced by the pandemic.

“Cloud adoption is increasing, with businesses realising the cost benefit and agility this brings
Data is increasingly becoming the new real estate or information assets – this means a greater need to protect it
Cyber security and cyber resilience are becoming key risks on corporate risk registers
The corporate office is extending into the home space, and must be protected accordingly
Digital engagement channels are increasing
Legal and regulatory requirements are increasing
The realisation that large offices are no longer required to conduct business.”

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