Cyberattack surge highlights Africa’s growing security risk

Cyberattack surge highlights Africa’s growing security risk

By Antony Mutunga

Since COVID hit, cyber criminals and hackers have been more active than ever and even though in the past, Africa was not necessarily considered a focus area by these criminals as compared to places like North America and Europe. Today, the continent is at risk of sophisticated types of cybercriminal activity such as targeted attacks or advanced persistent threats. In fact, according to Kaspersky, in the first half of 2021, the African region was comparable to that of North America or Europe in terms of cyberattacks.

According to Kaspersky’s research, in 2020, on a global level, approximately 10% of computers experienced at least one malware attack. When compared to some African countries, such as South Africa, the figures were lower but close while for others such as Liberia, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, it was slightly higher. 

According to David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky, Africa has the same hit rate as we would see for other parts of the globe when it comes to cyberattacks and activity. “This only emphasises that the cyber threat landscape truly does incorporate the whole globe where no continent or country is free of this growing danger and where all consumers, businesses and industries alike need to pay attention to effective cybersecurity measures – and especially during the current pandemic and resultant turbulent times,” he said.

In the 2021 report, Kaspersky researchers continued to warn that malware and trojans were the major risks that most African countries were facing. For instance, when comparing the first quarter of 2021 with second quarter of 2021, a 24 percent increase in ransomware was recorded in the Q2 2021 in South Africa, as well as an increase of 14 percent in crypto-miner malware.

On the other hand, in Kenya and Nigeria, financial trojans were the major challenge as in Q2 2021 when compared to the figures for Q1 2021, Kenya recorded a 59 percent increase while Nigeria recorded a 32 percent rise. 

There has been an increase in advanced and strategic and persistent attacks as compared to previous random and speculative attacks that targeted businesses and individuals. As Africa continues to grow its financial sector, hackers and cyber criminals are taking the opportunity to target the new entrants, making the sector the prime target as it shifts to digital platforms. There is a need for businesses and individuals alike to invest in cyber security as the hackers will keep evolving. 

“In a world where cybercrime remains rife and is only fuelled by aspects like the pandemic, there is never a moment one should not consider the implications of a cyberattack, especially as the cyberthreat landscape evolves and become even more targeted and sophisticated than it was a mere few years ago. Cybercrime is a business,” says Emm. “This means that consumers and companies alike must remain vigilant against an increasing attack surface. Not only does this entail a more focused cyber training approach for staff within an organisation, but also using the latest technologies that feature artificial intelligence and machine learning for accurate and proactive protection and prevention in real-time.”

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