AWS Africa Region boosts security, innovation among SA companies, Newsline

The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region went live in April 2020.

However, many South African companies have made the headlines recently after suffering data breaches which have exposed data of millions of people.

Data breaches in South Africa have been highlighted by the country’s Information Regulator who has been quoted in local media as saying in the last four months, the regulator has recorded 25 data breaches, 19 of which were self-reported.

South Africa’s data privacy law, the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPIA) is set to be operational in July 2021. When the POPIA is in force, businesses that don’t comply can face severe penalties.

The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region came at an opportune time as most organisations are rushing to ensure that they will not be found wanting when POPIA kicks in.

Prabashni Naidoo, Director of AWS South Africa, says the AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region has three Availability Zones. AWS Regions are composed of Availability Zones, which each comprise of one or more data centres and are located in separate and distinct geographic locations with enough distance to significantly reduce the risk of a single event impacting business continuity, yet near enough to provide low latency for high availability applications, she explains.

Each Availability Zone has independent power, cooling, and physical security and is connected via redundant, ultra-low-latency networking.

Naidoo notes that AWS customers focused on high availability can design their applications to run in multiple Availability Zones to achieve even greater fault-tolerance. “This mean that the Availability Zones in the Cape Town Region are equipped with back-up power to ensure continuous and reliable power availability to maintain operations during electrical failures and loadshedding in the country,” she says.

Secure cloud computing

On the security front, Naidoo says AWS has been architected to be the most flexible and secure cloud computing environment available today.

“Our core infrastructure is built to satisfy the security requirements for military, global banks, and other high-sensitivity organisations,” she says.

She points out that this is backed by a deep set of cloud security tools, with 230 security compliance and governance services and key features.

Moreover, she adds, AWS supports 85 security standards and compliance certificates and all 117 AWS services that store customer data offer the ability to encrypt that data.

“With the AWS Africa Region now being in South Africa, customers now have access to AWS’s industry leading, and robust security technology and services. AWS infrastructure regions meet the highest levels of security, compliance, and data protection.”

Naidoo also points out that with the AWS Africa Region, customers with data residency requirements, and those looking to comply with POPIA, can now store their content in South Africa with the assurance that they retain complete ownership of their data and it will not move unless they choose to move it.

“Additionally, AWS is vigilant about our customers’ privacy and have implemented sophisticated technical and physical measures to prevent unauthorised access. We have a world-class team of security experts monitoring our systems 24/7 to protect customer content.

“It’s also important to point out that customers can choose to encrypt their content as part of a standard security process for highly sensitive content. AWS provides tools customers can use to encrypt their data at rest or in motion, or customers can choose from a number of supported third party security solutions. Content that has been encrypted is rendered useless without the applicable decryption keys.”

Using AWS, organisations will gain the control and confidence they need to securely run their business with the most flexible and secure cloud computing environment available today.

For AWS customers, Naidoo says, organisations will benefit from AWS data centres and a network architected to protect their information, identities, applications, and devices.

“With AWS, they can improve their ability to meet core security and compliance requirements, such as data locality, protection, and confidentiality with AWS’s comprehensive services and features.

Driving innovations

Besides providing top security, compliance and data protect protection, AWS Africa Region is helping South African companies – large and small – to innovate.

Says Naidoo: “The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region enables customers to build on AWS technologies that weren’t previously available in country. Customers across the country now have access to advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence, machine learning, Internet of Things (IoT), mobile services, and more.”

She notes that the Region also brings benefits such as scalability and the ability to rapidly experiment. “One of the benefits customers love about AWS is the ability to rapidly experiment, at low cost. Through using AWS, developers are able to test new ideas without any upfront payment or long-term commitment. Another benefit customer’s love about AWS is the ability to rapidly scale their businesses, Naidoo says, pointing out that a good example is TymeBank, South Africa’s first, digital retail bank.

“The bank is ‘all in’ on AWS, leveraging a vast number of AWS services to create a smooth, paperless, rewarding and free banking experience for millions of South Africans. TymeBank is innovating on the AWS Cloud, and relies on its advanced technology to rapidly and securely scale to support over 100 000 new customers per month.”

According to Naidoo, AWS has helped the bank to achieve consistent customer and realise cost savings of 44 percent on its IT bill since setting up the bank in 2018.

“Additionally, having an AWS Region in South Africa provides the bank with performance, security, reliability and availability it needs to be Africa’s largest exclusively digital bank.”

The AWS Africa (Cape Town) Region is here to help organisations in South Africa and the continent unlock new opportunities, scale and rapidly innovate, Naidoo concludes.