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The changing world of data protection

The changing world of data protection

Businesses have never before been so accountable for the use, storing and handling of data. As highlighted by the Cambridge Analytica data misuse scandal, there is in intense focus currently on data privacy, data security and the responsibility of protecting one’s digital identity. This is according to Christo van Staden, Forcepoint Regional Manager: Sub-Saharan Africa.

And now with GDPR in force and PoPIA compliance looming, there is understandably even more demand from both consumers and businesses to manage personal data with the sensitivity and respect that it is entitled to.

It is a complex process to fully understand exactly what data you have, where it is stored and then find the best security systems to protect it. In a cloud-first, mobile-centric environment, businesses require a flexible and adaptive approach – fixed perimeter security no longer works.

This adaptive approach needs to also cover threats from a range of different sources. It’s not enough to just worry about external threats – you need to protect data from all sides and as cybercriminals continue to adapt to security techniques, you need to consider that the threat could be coming from within your organisation.

Even with all your perimeter defences, the enemy could still have access to the place where compromise is easiest and where it matters most: inside the network.

Threats from inside a network, however, are driven by a range of different intentions: there could be an external attacker that has compromised the security of the enterprise, who is lurking and operating inside your network using authorised credentials, or someone who’s actually permitted to be inside your network but with malicious intent. Or it could be an authorised user making a simple mistake.

Mitigating against these types of threat is difficult but one way to do it is to introduce a carefully crafted workplace monitoring programmes. These are built to keep your data safe, but must be introduced transparently.

It is critical that employees fully understand and are aware of how the programme works. Balancing human behaviour against behaviour analytics is a complex process but, as we’ll discuss below, its long-term benefits are key for both the organisation and the employee

Educate, trust, inspire

Cybersecurity vendors, privacy groups and businesses themselves have a huge opportunity to educate consumers and employees on the role that they play in protecting their data and what might happen if individuals with malicious intent manage to take hold of their information.

But, what does this education look like? In order to make a real difference, any education tools need to engage, inspire and be ingrained in a company’s culture, going beyond just basic instructions.

Thankfully, workplace safety culture has evolved from the lengthy dry health and safety videos of the past. Here at Forcepoint, we’re working with Ataata for our internal cybersecurity training. These humorous videos cut through the security inertia which can set in if employees are required to click through screen after screen of training information.
By prioritising educating individuals on the impact of their behaviour and inspiring them to think carefully about their behaviours, rhythms and patterns of data movements, employers and their staff can become stewards of their own data, entering into a partnership and helping to mitigate the increasing risk of threats.

Workplace monitoring

Workplace monitoring is a phrase that instantly drives fear into the hearts of many employees. However, in the wake of recent high profile cyber breaches from the likes of Liberty, it is important that businesses have the processes and solutions in place to not only protect their customers, but also employees and their brand as whole.

This is where workplace monitoring can play a key role – not as a threat to privacy, but a force of good in the fight for data protection. While the vast majority of employees want to do the right thing and have the best interests of their co-workers at heart, it has become painfully obvious that traditional security tools are failing to provide contextual information about malicious attackers – the “why” behind the what.

Without this context, incidents cannot be properly examined and dealt with. In an era where breaches are common, and data is the new currency, both companies and employees can derive real benefit by understanding who is accessing data and whether that behaviour is putting the data at risk.

Whether it’s successfully identifying a malicious user or protecting an employee’s own personal ID and reputation, workplace monitoring is here to stay and a vital tool for cybersecurity professionals.

Unchartered waters

There is no denying that people’s attitudes and understanding of data privacy, cybersecurity and data protection are evolving and changing at rapid pace.

While cybercriminals will inevitably find stealing data far more difficult, the threat remains. It would be naïve to think that hackers will not evolve, and become adept at thwarting the current security protections.

Forcepoint believes that by adopting a risk adaptive model coupled with a human centric approach to cybersecurity, businesses will be better able to defend against any potential threat. By focusing on the human, we can deliver individualised cybersecurity that is adaptive based on behaviours. Furthermore, with a better understanding of each person’s intent, we can give the context needed to make informed decisions and improve the efficiency of the protective solutions.

With these right processes in place and a culture of trust and transparency, companies can ensure that people are taking real ownership of their data and an active role in protecting their digital selves.

In doing so, we are on the way to becoming stewards of our own data and fundamentally becoming accountable for our own digital footprint. Only then will be able to build a culture where breaches are a rarity – not regularity.

Caption: Christo van Staden, Forcepoint Regional Manager: Sub-Saharan Africa, says businesses have never before been so accountable for the use, storing and handling of data.


About The Author

Sanlam 2018 Annual Results

7 March 2019


Sanlam’s 2018 annual results provides testimony to its resilience amid challenging operating conditions and negative investment markets

Sanlam today announced its operational results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018. The Group made significant progress in strategic execution during 2018. This included the acquisition of the remaining 53% stake in SAHAM Finances, the largest transaction concluded in the Group’s 100-year history, and the approval by Sanlam shareholders of a package of Broad-based Black Economic Empowerment (B-BBEE) transactions that will position the Group well for accelerated growth in its South African home market.

Operational results for 2018 included 14% growth in the value of new life insurance business (VNB) on a consistent economic basis and more than R2 billion in positive experience variances, testimony to Sanlam’s resilience in difficult times.

The Group relies on its federal operating model and diversified profile in dealing with the challenging operating environment, negative investment markets and volatile currencies. Management continues to focus on growing existing operations and extracting value from recent corporate transactions to drive enhanced future growth.

The negative investment market returns and higher interest rates in a number of markets where the Group operates had a negative impact on growth in operating earnings and some other key performance indicators. This was aggravated by weak economic growth in South Africa and Namibia and internal currency devaluations in Angola, Nigeria and Zimbabwe.

Substantial growth in Santam’s operating earnings (net result from financial services) and satisfactory growth by Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) and Sanlam Corporate offset softer contributions from Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) and Sanlam Investment Group (SIG).

Key features of the 2018 annual results include:

Net result from financial services increased by 4% compared to the same period in 2017;

Net value of new covered business up 8% to R2 billion (up 14% on a consistent economic basis);

Net fund inflows of R42 billion compared to R37 billion in 2017;

Adjusted Return on Group Equity Value per share of 19.4% exceeded the target of 13.0%; and

Dividend per share of 312 cents, up 8%.

Sanlam Group Chief Executive Officer, Mr Ian Kirk said: “We are satisfied with our performance in a challenging operating environment. We will continue to focus on managing operations prudently and diligently executing on our strategy to deliver sustainable value to all our stakeholders. The integration of SAHAM Finances is progressing well. In addition, Sanlam shareholders approved the package of B-BBEE transactions, including an equity raising, at the extraordinary general meeting held on 12 December 2018. Our plan to implement these transactions this year remains on track.”

Sanlam Personal Finance (SPF) net result from financial services declined by 5%, largely due to the impact of new growth initiatives and dampened market conditions. Excluding the new initiatives, SPF’s contribution was 1% down on 2017 due to the major impact that the weak equity market performance in South Africa had on fund-based fee income.

SPF’s new business sales increased by 4%, an overall satisfactory result under challenging conditions. Sanlam Sky’s new business increased by an exceptional 71%. Strong growth of 13% in the traditional individual life channel was augmented by the Capitec Bank credit life new business recognised in the first half of 2018, and strong demand for the new Capitec Bank funeral product. The Recurring premium and Strategic Business Development business units also achieved strong growth of 20%, supported by the acquisition of BrightRock in 2017. Glacier new business grew marginally by 1%. Primary sales onto the Linked Investment Service Provider (LISP) platform improved by 5%, an acceptable result given the pressure on investor confidence in the mass affluent market. This was however, offset by lower sales of wrap funds and traditional life products.

The strong growth in new business volumes at Sanlam Sky had a major positive effect on SPF’s VNB growth, which increased by 7% (14% on a comparable basis).

Sanlam Emerging Markets (SEM) grew its net result from financial services by 14%. Excluding the impact of corporate activity, earnings were marginally up on 2017 (up 8% excluding the increased new business strain).

New business volumes at SEM increased by 20%. Namibia performed well, increasing new business volumes by 22% despite weak economic conditions. Both life and investment new business grew strongly. Botswana underperformed with the main detractor from new business growth being the investment line of business, which declined by 24%. This line of business is historically more volatile in nature.

The new business growth in the Rest of Africa portfolio was 68% largely due to corporate activity relating to SAHAM Finances, with the East Africa portfolio underperforming.

The Indian insurance businesses continued to perform well, achieving double-digit growth in both life and general insurance in local currency. The Malaysian businesses are finding some traction after a period of underperformance, increasing their overall new business contribution by 3%. New business production is not yet meeting expectations, but the mix of business improved at both businesses.

SEM’s VNB declined by 3% (up 6% on a consistent economic basis and excluding corporate activity). The relatively low growth on a comparable basis is largely attributable to the new business underperformance in East Africa.

Sanlam Investment Group’s (SIG) overall net result from financial services declined by 6%, attributable to lower performance fees at the third party asset manager in South Africa, administration costs incurred for system upgrades in the wealth management business and lower earnings from equity-backed financing transactions at Sanlam Specialised Finance. The other businesses did well to grow earnings, despite the pressure on funds under management due to lower investment markets.

New business volumes declined by 13% mainly due to market volatility and low investor confidence in South Africa. Institutional new inflows remained weak for the full year, while retail inflows also slowed down significantly after a more positive start to the year. The international businesses, UK, attracted strong new inflows (up 57%).

Sanlam Corporate’s net result from financial services increased by 4%, with the muted growth caused by a continuation of high group risk claims experience. Mortality and disability claims experience weakened further in the second half of the year, which is likely to require more rerating of premiums in 2019. The administration units turned profitable in 2018, a major achievement. The healthcare businesses reported satisfactory double-digit growth in earnings, while the Absa Consultants and Actuaries business made a pleasing contribution of R39 million.

New business volumes in life insurance more than doubled, reflecting an exceptional performance. Single premiums grew by 109%, while recurring premiums increased by a particularly satisfactory 56%.

The good growth in recurring and single premium business, combined with modelling improvements, supported a 64% (71% on a comparable economic basis) increase in the cluster’s VNB contribution.

Following a year of major catastrophe events in 2017, Santam experienced a relatively benign claims environment in 2018. Combined with acceptable growth in net earned premiums, it contributed to a 37% increase in gross result from financial services (41% after tax and non-controlling interest). The conventional insurance book achieved an underwriting margin of 9% in 2018 (6% in 2017).

As at 31 December 2018, discretionary capital amounted to a negative R3.7 billion before allowance for the planned B-BBEE share issuance. A number of capital management actions during 2018 affected the balance of available discretionary capital, including the US$1 billion (R13 billion) SAHAM Finances transaction. Cash proceeds from the B-BBEE share issuance will restore the discretionary capital portfolio to between R1 billion and R1.5 billion depending on the final issue price within the R74 to R86 price range approved by shareholders.

Looking forward, the Group said economic growth in South Africa would likely remain weak in the short to medium term future, and would continue to impact efforts to accelerate organic growth. The outlook for economic growth in other regions where the Group operates is more promising. Recent acquisitions such as the SAHAM transaction should also support operational performance going forward.

“We remain focused on executing our strategy. We are confident that we have the calibre of management and staff to prudently navigate the anticipated challenges going forward,” Mr Kirk concluded.

Details of the results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018 are available at