July 18, 2022

Cyber criminals favouring South Africa: Is your business protected?

In the last couple of years, South Africa has caught the attention of cyber criminals. The rise in cyber crime in SA has largely been attributed to the telecommuting trend. With an increased use of insecure personal devices and home routers, employees are connecting to business networks remotely and this puts enterprise cyber security at risk.

Cybercrime is a growing concern in South Africa. While large distributed denial of services (DDoS) attacks are crippling for businesses, ransomware remains one of the biggest threats to South African enterprises.

The top five sectors affected by ransomware are banking, government, manufacturing, healthcare and the food industry. Given the recent rise in cyber crime activity, large organisations are looking at how to protect their business from cyber attack. SEACOM Business has a range of enterprise-grade cyber security solutions that are tailored to the needs of unique business requirements.

Rise in cyber crime in South Africa

A reliance on digital platforms means that South African enterprises need to protect essential services from cyber crime. An interruption to electricity, water supply, transport and public services is highly disruptive and costly for the economy. For example, the 2021 ransomware attack on Transnet, a South African freight transport company, led to port closures and a massive disruption to supply-chains. More recently, the pharmacy giant Dis-Chem fell victim to a cyber attack in which 3.6 million records of personal information were exposed.

South Africa has become a hub for cyber criminals, but since the introduction of the Cybercrimes Act much more has been done by law enforcement officials. This year, a number of fraudsters have been arrested in South Africa, including the arrest of several individuals suspected of ransomware attacks. In the last couple of months, a fraud gang was arrested in Johannesburg. Linked to an organised crime group based in Nigeria, the suspects are believed to be responsible for extorting a US company for almost R8 million.

Why is there so much cyber crime in South Africa?

In the rush to set up home offices in the wake of Covid-19 related lockdowns, many businesses left small gaps in their cyber security measures. The increased use of home computers, personal cell phones and routers served as an entry point for attackers.

While many saw the need for a VPN, not all businesses choose an enterprise-grade VPN that offers appropriate levels of protection. Popular free VPNs have turned out to be counterproductive because cyber criminals were able to use the VPN to turn home internet connections and personal devices into botnets.

Even with enterprise-grade VPNs businesses are still at risk. There has been a massive increase in phishing emails from hackers attempting to get login credentials. Despite a cloud-based VPN being a business necessity, without proper staff training and email protection to filter suspicious communication, employees unwittingly expose enterprise networks to attack. South Africa has become a breeding group for hackers.

South Africa ranks among the 30 countries most affected by malware. Digital skills in South Africa need to be developed to ensure that internet users have sufficient awareness of cyber threats and how to respond to them. Hackers exploit vulnerabilities, constantly diversifying their approaches. Cyber criminals often use multiple forms of attack in conjunction with each other, with the intention of intercepting data, disrupting business operations and/or demanding ransom.

Ransomware affects South African businesses

The commercialisation of ransomware has made it much cheaper and easier for hackers to launch a ransomware attack. Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) can be purchased for as little as R670 per month. During a ransomware attack, business networks are infected with malware. This encrypts data held on the network and companies have to pay to have their network restored. A ransomware attack is generally the first phase of a larger cyber attack and can involve multiple extortion techniques.

The average downtime for a ransomware attack is around three weeks, so businesses need to maintain regular and comprehensive backups. Planning clear procedures and rehearsing recovery can certainly help to prepare businesses in the event of an attack. But without appropriate cyber security tools, no amount of preparation will suffice. SEACOM Business has a range of security tools to protect South African enterprises from such attacks.

Keeping South African businesses protected

The rise in security breaches in South Africa is detrimental to profit margins. When business operations shut down, this has reputation costs as well as affecting revenue. The breach of intellectual property and corporate assets is not only damaging to business but also has legal consequences. Businesses are required by law to protect personal information.

SEACOM Business offers enhanced email protection. Email protection is a basic security requirement. With unlimited storage and rapid deployment, this cyber security tool protects business emails from malware, spam and phishing.

Large enterprises need protection against ransomware and DDoS attacks. SEACOM’s DDoS protection includes advanced detection and mitigation of this next generation of cyber attack. In partnership with SEACOM Business, enterprises can choose the right level of protection according to their size and requirements. With managed or hosted security, SEACOM Business has a complete range of security solutions and next gen firewalls that are designed to protect large enterprises from cyber attack.

A strategy for cyber protection

In a recent report focusing on cyber threats, Interpol outlined a regional strategy for Africa. Among them was the need for enhanced cybercrime intelligence, proper cyber hygiene and capabilities. Business leaders need to take cyber security seriously and make sure their networks and digital assets are protected.

Working in partnership with SEACOM Business, South African enterprises benefit from cutting-edge tools and technologies. Cloud-based technologies exploit global threat intelligence to deliver the most up-to-date solutions to cyberthreats. For more information or to get a quote for our cyber security solutions, email us at marketing@seacom.com or leave us a message.

SEACOM owns Africa’s most extensive network of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure, including subsea cables and secure internet connections. We offer a diverse range of flexible, scalable and high-quality solutions for businesses that meet world-class standards for connectivity.

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