While malware in general continues its relentless growth, Africa faces particular threats in the areas of industrial systems and mobile payments.

Kathy Gibson joined Kaspersky Lab for its Cyber Security Weekend in Cape Town to learn more.


Threats to look out for in 2019

South Africa ranks an alarming second in the world when it comes to Android-based mobile banking malware, with only Russia experiencing more attacks.

This is one of the findings from Kaspersky Lab research for the first quarter of 2019 which found that malware attacks in the region have grown 8%, with mobile malware up 17,5%.

More than 90% of all cyber threats are still traditional cybercrime, but targeted threats to organisations are growing – now at 9,9% – with cyber weapons now making up 0,1% of threats.

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The growing threat of industrial attacks

Industrial systems are extremely vulnerable to cyberattacks, particularly those in Africa.

Amin Hasbini, head of Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab, points out that the most vulnerable systems are those used in critical manufacturing, energy, water and waste-water systems, followed by agriculture and chemical operations.

In Africa, a massive 60% of systems are vulnerable.

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MuddyWater group targets META companies

Kaspersky Lab has uncovered a new cybercrime group operating in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region.

The company has been tracking the organisation for some time and published its first publication in 2017, explains Amin Hasbini, head of Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab.

After publication, the group started communicating with Kaspersky, complaining that their code was better than reported and leaving messages for researchers. “Our response was to detect more,” Hasbini says.

MuddyWater has targeted a number of government, telecommunications and educational organisations.

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The growing threat from within

When it comes to cybersecurity, there is no such thing as 100% protection – without awareness and education breaches will continue to happen.

Elena Molchanova, head of security awareness marketing at Kaspersky Lab, says research shows that 52% of organisations regard employees as the biggest threat to corporate cybersecurity.

A massive 60% of employees store confidential data on their corporate devices.

More worryingly, 30% of employees confess to having shared their work PC logins with colleagues.

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The cybercrime downside of mobile payments

Mobile payment is the future of commerce. But, while it is very convenient, it is fraught with threats.

This is the word from Fabio Assolini, senior security researcher at Kaspersky Lab, who points out that there are a huge number of players in the arena that are not as well known as the market leaders.

“This convenience of mobile payment is amazing,” Assolini says.

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The enemy on the edge

Security threats surrounding the Internet of Things (IoT) are growing as quickly as the IoT itself.

IoT may seem like a pipe dream but it is a reality today – and it’s present in many homes, companies, factories and utilities.

Maher Yamout, senior security researcher: Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab, points out that robots are used in many different scenarios.

IoT devices are connected via gateways to the Internet and from there to the servers, databases, storage and applications in the cloud. The user is able to control the IoT devices from his own device that also connects to the cloud.

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Who’s in charge of security awareness?

There is confusion about where the responsibility for cybersecurity awareness lies.

Professor Basie Von Solms, research professor at the University of Johannesburg, believes it is a corporate governance issue.

“In many companies, they force employees to be cybersecurity aware, but at the top echelons, they have no idea what’s going on,” he points out.

“If we don’t understand that the responsibility starts at the top and goes all the way down, the lines are blurred.”

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Meet Reuben, the 13-year-old IoT hacking expert

One of the youngest white hat hackers in the world, 13-year-old Reuben Paul is also a cyber security ambassador and committed to helping people use technology for good.

At the Kaspersky Lab event this week, Reuben performed a live Internet of Things (IoT) hack. He intercepted a flying drone, controlling its flight and taking over its video feed.

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