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Important Changes to the Cybercrimes Act

Across the globe, businesses and individuals are seeing a massive up swing in cybercrimes which is enabled by a naive and uneducated populous who believe everything they see and read. Who can blame them! Cybercriminals are clever deviants who prey on the isolated, lonely and unsuspecting … before you decide that you are not one of the aforementioned, let us look at just how clever these deviants are.

Cybercriminals are technical geniuses who have access to all the tricks of their trade. While some may just utilitse the practice of phishing (most common cybercrime used spread a net far and wide, using social media and electronic communications such as email and WhatsApp, to lure unsuspecting victims in with the promise of something better, such as love or money) there are others who are far more malicious with the ability to render entire organisations powerless with ransomware, Malware, Cyberterrorism and cyberwarfare, all of which are executed with the goal of extorting money from organisations.

On December 1st 2021, some of the regulations of the South African Cybercrimes Act No. 19 of 2020 (“the Act”) came into effect. While there are still more regulations to come, this is a start which will provide guidelines and regulations for businesses to follow which also enables them to report Cybercrimes to the SA Police. The Cybercrime Act defines cybercrime as unlawful access of computer systems, interception of data, unlawful deeds enacted on hardware or software applications and modalities and any interference with data.

Cybercrimes include fraud, forgery, and extortion, serious offenses of aggravated communications and theft of incorporeal property. Also included are acts of malicious communications such as messages that incite damage to property, violence towards others, threatening messages and the sharing of intimate images. (

Cybercrime does not only effect businesses but also any user of social media or any person who engages with individuals via games, dating sites, and their associated communication tools, such as Discord, and servers. Too quickly can a person become vulnerable when communicating with another via electronic system, and so to can individuals find themselves in hot water when engaging with others on social media platforms. Too often individuals feel that they have the right to comment on or criticize another person and are protected by the relative anonymity that social media provides. It is easy to sit behind a profile picture and type out your opinions aimed at others, when the other person is not standing right in front of you. Comments made online can be made with a false sense of security which enables people to express their every thought about anything and everything, all of the time, as if there will be no repercussions.

Adults and children alike can find themselves tempted to send inappropriate communications, which may land them in trouble with the police. Gone are the days where the sharing of inappropriate images is acceptable and thought of enticing. Images and words are forwarded and when this happens, the person who shares the inappropriate communications becomes complicate to the act. So think before you share or risk the consequences.