Mvelase’s Diligent Probe into Black Hat Hacking Earns him a Distinction for his Honours Research

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Mvelase’s Diligent Probe into Black Hat Hacking Earns him a Distinction for his Honours Research

Mvelase’s Diligent Probe into Black Hat Hacking Earns him a Distinction for his Honours Research

The cyberworld is popularly hailed as a space that has completely revolutionised society, giving expression to notable advancements witnessed in information communication technologies, international communications and banking, among other sectors.

While this is indisputable, there are also glaring disadvantages of the cyber space which pose various threats to humanity. Black hat hacking is a key example of this. In an article published on its website, Tech Target describes a black hat hacker as an individual who “typically engages in cybercrime operations and uses hacking for financial gain, cyber espionage purposes or other malicious motives, like implanting malware into computer systems”.

University of Zululand (UNIZULU) graduate Nkanyiso Mvelase, who graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Honours in Criminology on Thursday, 9 May 2024, was unsettled by the increasing prevalence of this crime against South African businesses and subsequently made it the focus of his Honours study.  

Titled “An explorative study on the nature and extent of black hat hacking on commercial businesses in South Africa.”, Mvelase’s study investigated the complex dynamics of cyber threats facing businesses, with implications extending both nationally and globally.

“Through a qualitative desktop study employing content thematic analysis within an interpretive framework, I aimed to uncover the underlying motivations, tactics, and impacts of black hat hacking activities targeting commercial enterprises in South Africa. By examining a diverse range of sources such as case studies, industry reports, and expert analyses, I sought to discern patterns and themes that shed light on the evolving nature of cyber threats within the local business landscape,” explained the graduand.

The findings of his research revealed a spread in sophisticated hacking techniques, ranging from ransomware attacks to data breaches, with profound financial stability, reputation and data security implications for businesses. In the graduand’s view, the evident interconnectedness of cyber threats highlights a need for collaborative efforts among businesses, government agencies, and cybersecurity experts to mitigate risks effectively.

Mvelase’s keen interest in the topic of black hat hacking propelled him to invest adequate time into probing this topical matter by developing a rigorous, goal-oriented study schedule. Though he encountered roadblocks during the data analysis process, this did not impede his eventual academic excellence. He contended with limited comprehensive and up-to-date data on cyber-attacks targeting South African businesses, complications with accessing sensitive information and industry-specific data on cybercrime incidents and the everchanging nature of cybercrime trends and technologies which required constant vigilance and engagement with industry experts and thought leaders. Amid these obstacles, Mvelase attained an impressive 80% for his research.

“It’s a validation of the countless hours of hard work, dedication, and perseverance that I invested in the research process. Moreover, the support and encouragement of my family, friends, mentors, and educators have played a significant role in my academic journey. Their guidance, advice, and unwavering belief in my abilities have motivated me to strive for greatness and overcome challenges along the way,” a delighted Mvelase said. He particularly acknowledged his supervisor, Prof Jean Steyn, whose guidance, “akin to that of a father figure”, bolstered his confidence and propelled him towards academic excellence.

On the day of his graduation, Mvelase will be accompanied by his mother Thobisile, sister Zodwa and brother Khethukuthula. Though the graduand’s other four siblings will miss his moment on stage, they will surely vicariously experience it through the other family members.

Mvelase’s family hails from Osindisweni in Verulam, KwaZulu-Natal. After the passing of his father in 2002, Mvelase’s mother has single-handedly raised her seven children with her meagre salary earned from her employment as a domestic worker.

With his qualifications, Mvelase envisions a better future for him and his family. He first registered at UNIZULU in 2019 and obtained a BA in Correctional Studies in 2021. Following his graduation for his Honours qualification, the criminal justice enthusiast will gear up for his next graduation in 2026, where he will be conferred a Master’s qualification in Criminology.

While he acknowledged that his current academic journey is demanding, with the guidance and support of his supervisor, Dr Kanagie Naidoo, he felt empowered to navigate the complexities of his research with confidence and determination.

  • Naledi Hlefane