Cyber crooks struck two in eight top African businesses

October 3, 2014

Highly sophisticated cyber criminals stole confidential information and financially defrauded two in eight major Australian businesses in 2013, a new report has revealed. Released this week, the 2013 Cyber Crime and Security Survey Report shows more than 25 per cent of 600 organisations in sub Saharan Africa’s mineral, energy, defence, Financial, communications, banking among other sectors reported a ”cyber incident” last year, despite the majority using security software and firewalls.The number of incidents may be even higher than indicated by respondents, the report notes, as some attacks may have gone undetected. The most lethal attacks involved the use of ”ransomware” and ”scareware” a sort of malicious software that either locks a computer system until a ransom is paid, or launches a hoax virus and demands payment to ”remove” it with South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria the top three most affected countries. One scareware attack mentioned in the report displayed fake warning screens claiming to be from the non-existent “African Defence again Cyber Attacks”, saying the organisation’s computers had been ”associated with criminal activity” to discourage them from reporting the scam to relevant authorities.

More than three quarters of the organisations who reported an attack said they had been deliberately targeted, with 22 per cent saying criminals had stolen ”confidential or proprietary information” and 16 per cent reporting financial fraud with Kenya and South Africa leading the pack. In one case, an organisation reported the theft of a decade worth of critical business data. The attacks come despite more than 72 per cent of all respondents saying they employed digital security measures such as anti-virus software, anti-spam filters and firewalls. According to a source involved with the study, African businesses needed to be mindful of the risks of operating online.
In his own words, the digital economy has opened up myriad opportunities for African businesses to deliver goods, provide services and communicate with people more effectively. But with every online opportunity comes the risk of criminal exploitation,” said the researcher.There is no doubt in your blogger’s mind that cyber attacks have shifted from being indiscriminate and random to being more coordinated and targeted for financial gain.

Contador Harrison