INFOTECH: SA Companies Ignorant Of their Liability If IT Systems Crash
Recent Kwazulu-Natal Business News
“South African companies remain largely ignorant of their liability should anything go wrong with their IT systems,” says Adapt IT’s senior business development manager Peter Hilditch. “Most companies still have not come to grips with the implications of new and proposed legislation that holds board directors liable should their companies not comply with IT regulatory procedures,” Hilditch explains.
“New legislation and corporate governance regulations, including King III, the Consumer Protection Act, and the Protection of Personal Information Bill, have put the responsibility for IT governance firmly on the shoulders of company directors. Directors will be held personally liable if they do not make sure that prudent and reasonable steps have been taken to ensure their company’s IT compliance and necessary risk management,” explains Hilditch.
King III recognises that IT has become an integral part of doing business today, as it is fundamental to the support, sustainability and growth of organisations. IT cuts across all aspects, components and processes in business and is therefore not only an operational enabler for a company, but an important strategic asset which can be leveraged to create opportunities and to gain competitive advantage. As well as being a strategic asset to the company, IT also presents organisations with significant risks. The strategic asset of IT and its related risks and constraints should be well governed and controlled to ensure that IT supports the strategic objectives of the organisation.
How to Ensure Companies Don’t Become Liable Due to IT Systems
The board should ensure that information and intellectual property contained in the information systems are protected; and that formal information security management systems have been established to ensure the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information; that company information is protected; and that personal and sensitive information is protected according to relevant laws and regulations.
“As we have expanded our offering to include data protection and recovery, archiving and retention management technology, it has become apparent that the large majority of companies that we interact with have a lack of knowledge about their obligations around IT compliance, and even if they are aware of it, they are unsure of how to go about it,” says Hilditch.
“There have been quite a few instances in South Africa already where companies have lost confidential information as they did not have the right processes and procedures in place to protect individual’s personal information. These few instances have cost these companies’ large sums of money and damaged their image in the market place,” says Hilditch. He says that companies in KwaZulu Natal, where Adapt IT is based, are usually not early adopters of new technology, placing them at increasingly high risk of IT mismanagement.
How to Minimize Liability with Company IT Systems
“Companies need to realise that compliance with these new legislation requirements is not just about putting in an IT backup solution. Companies need to look at an enterprise level solution that takes into account the important legal and legislative aspects of how and where you store, protect and backup your data. Adapt IT has been working together with local legal teams in order to understand the legal implications and requirements for businesses. Together with our comprehensive suite of products, including the Connected Backup for PC suite; an archive protection, search retrieval and access solution known as NearPoint; and an automated, secure, efficient and monitored tape-free data backup system known as LiveVault, we are able to approach most companies to analyse their requirements and implement solutions that makes sure their data retention and compliance requirements are met,” explains Hilditch. A companies liability due to IT systems can be significant, therefore these plans and measures can ensure and help any company in the right direction.
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