Major spike in SA cyber attacks, over 10 000 attempts a day - security company

Malware attacks in South Africa increased by 22% in the first quarter of 2019 compared to the first quarter of 2018, according to global cyber security company Kaspersky Lab.

This translates into about 13 842 attempted cyber attacks in SA per day, Amin Hasbini, head of global research and analysis for Kaspersky in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa, said during an information session in Cape Town on Monday.

That means there are just under 577 attempted attacks per hour, or over 9 per second.

Furthermore, Android mobile phones in SA are the second most targeted in the world in terms of banking malware. Russia faces the most.

Hasbini said one of the big trends in Africa last year was, for instance, an increased focus in attempted cyber attacks on industrial control systems.

This involves cyber attacks on critical infrastructure systems like nuclear facilities, dam control facilities, electricity facilities and water treatment facilities, for example.

"In many countries – especially in Africa - we see a lack of awareness of this threat to critical infrastructure. Many of these facilities are not aware that they are exposed to cyber risk and can be controlled if hacked," said Hasbini.

"They also do not know their systems need maintenance and must be upgraded."

A global survey conducted by Kasperksy for 2018 indicated that cyber incidents are becoming bigger and more difficult to stop.

"A lot of organisations are facing malware attacks and a lot of these are caused by employees making inappropriate use of company property – including on mobile devices. Mobile is becoming a major problem," said Hasbini.

According to Sergey Novikov, deputy director of global research and analysis at Kasperky, in the first quarter of 2019 almost half of Kaspersky users faced some sort of cyber threat.

Kaspersky estimates that in the first quarter of the year there has been about 8% more malware detected than in the first quarter of 2018.

Hasbini added that mobile malware increased even more than computer malware - by over 17% during the period.