In Africa’s cyber attacks, tackling Advanced Persistent Threats is crucial

Posted On June 29, 2013 , 9:47 AM Contador HarrisonPeriscope

Latest data indicates that $62 billion was spent globally on IT security last year. Despite the heavy investments, companies and governments are continuing to face massive advanced persistent threats. In fact, close to 90% of organizations have active malware and more than half of them are not aware of any intrusions. Public authorities are the most vulnerable to cyber attacks as most African governments are unaware of the chronic dangers and sophisticated tactics used by advanced hackers. Surprisingly, a majority of government and corporate leaders are not even aware of methods employed by the hackers these days. There has been upsurge in cases where vital state and even military secrets obtained illegally by hackers have ended up being sold to other state spying agencies. This has also included crucial economic and commercial intelligence data of high value being shipped to business and state rivals. The young jobless techies and nerds in Africa are said to hack for fun but online crime gangs are after stealing accounts details, passwords and private data to indulge in illegal funds transfers and ATM withdrawals among other damaging activities.

Hackers, some who are as brave as lions, have no fear selling the information they steal to the highest offer. Most IT security practitioners are more concerned with data breach but they ignore advanced persistent threats. What African region has failed to realize is that data breaches happen through the use of advanced persistent threats. Cyber-threats in Africa, studies have shown that there are plenty of dangers posed by social media networks. In two cases reported in South Africa and Nigeria, attackers used information gleaned from Twitter and Facebook respectively to mine more about the organizations targeted. In the case of South Africa, the attacker used information from Twitter where he used information gathered to develop a phishing e-mail that lured employees of the company (I cannot name it for legal reasons) to open an attachment.

When a female staff opened her mails, the malicious application landed on her PC and spread to all other computers within the organization and according to an investigator privy to the case, it was able to figure out what are the valuable data available on the network. The “vocational” IT Security experts have failed to appreciate that option of relying on antivirus as an all round solution for any organization’s security problems is obsolete and inadequate. In the presence of advanced persistent threats, anti- virus solution is worthless. I come from the school of thought that believe cloud computing is more secure than the more vulnerable traditional IT security infrastructure where IT managers manage the challenge alone. Unless you are an amateur IT manager, it is important to work everyday with an assumption that your organization’s network could be compromised anytime because it radically changes the