Shifting to digital ways of working has for a long time been a challenging task. But it wasn’t until the pandemic that the bulk of businesses started following that path. Cyber-attackers and hackers are evolving and gearing up to target these growing numbers of online users.
According to the “evolving cyber security threat in Africa” report by Liquid Intelligent Technologies, over 90% of tech decision-makers across Kenya, South Africa, and Zimbabwe have accelerated their cyber security. In fact, 53% of the respondents said safety, security and protection of data were the main challenges faced by the three countries, followed closely by the hacking of company databases (50%) and cyber attacks (43).
The types of cyberattacks varied with 67% of the 141 people surveyed identifying email attacks, including spam, phishing, and social engineering attacks, as significant threats. This was closely followed by data breaches at 59%, web application and web-based attacks (51%), malware attacks (50%), and identity theft (40%). At the continental level, says the report, the rise in cyber crimes is estimated to cost aout Sh439.9n ($4bn) a year.
This is because of an increase in the frequency and sophistication of cybercrimes, which have shifted from targeting individuals and groups, organizations, and even governments. Moreover, with the pandemic resulting in many businesses turning to remote working, there has been risks as many employees are outside of the control environment of centralized IT systems.
In Kenya, for instance, data breaches, data leakage and data disclosure were the leading sources of cyber-attacks, accounting for nearly 71% of the attacks targeting businesses. On the other hand, over 70% of South African and Zimbabwean organizations consider email attacks like phishing the most prominent digital threats.
Whereas remote working was the “norm” in 2020, this year is seen to record an increased uptake of cloud-based services with the numbers as high as 96% in South Africa, 95% in Kenya, and 75% in Zimbabwe. This is what makes tech players namely Virtual Private Networks (VPNs), Microsoft Office 365, Teams, Zoom, Google Workspace, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services to be valuable at the moment.
“The result of our research confirms that cyber security should be at the center of every business conversation and emphasizes the need to establish an appropriate cyber security framework that matches the business environment,” said Liquid Intelligent Technologies Group head of cyber security Ignus de Villiers.