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Shoprite attack – another wake-up call for Africa

By , ITWeb
Africa , South Africa , 20 Jun 2022

In 2022, it’s critical to reduce cybersecurity risk both through a prevent-first approach and better security training for employees, the company says.

Global cybersecurity solutions provider Check Point Software Technologies is reminding African organisations of the importance of cybersecurity training for employees, following the recent cyber-attack on Shoprite Holdings.

In early June, ITWeb reported that the retail chain was hit by a data breach and most recently, that a hacker group known as RansomHouse is demanding ransom.

ITWeb added in its report that Shoprite announced it suffered a suspected data compromise that impacted money transfer services.

On its website, the retailer stated: “The Shoprite Group became aware of a suspected data compromise, impacting on a specific sub-set of data and which may affect some customers who engaged in money transfers to and within Eswatini and within Namibia and Zambia.”

Shoprite released a statement which confirmed the attack and that the data compromise included names and ID numbers, but no financial information.

According to Check Point, RansomHouse claimed it took some 600GB of data. The attackers said the lack of cybersecurity practices by Shoprite employees was easy to exploit, with many keeping large amounts of personal data in unprotected plain text.

With employees being the first line of defence in security and prevention, this is an important reminder of the need to implement regular cybersecurity training, as well as clear procedures and policies for data storage, Check Point stated.

It added that ransomware attacks are currently rife - and increasing - across the African continent.

In the first quarter of 2022, Check Point Research has noted a 23% increase in ransomware attacks compared to 2021 – with 1 out of 44 organisations now impacted weekly, on average. This is compared to 1 out of 53 organisations impacted globally. Ransomware attacks are becoming the most lucrative type of cybercrime, enabling criminal gangs to rake in huge profits. In the last few months alone, these attacks have disrupted large organisations in South Africa from Dis-Chem to Capitec and Transnet.

In response to the attack, Shoprite Holdings were quick to implement additional security measures, including amending authentication processes and detection strategies, and locking down affected areas of the network. “While these measures are good, they still reflect another concerning reality,” says Pankaj Bhula: Check Point’s EMEA Regional Director: Africa.

“Many local businesses are still one step behind cybercriminals, following a detect and respond approach rather than a prevent-first one. Prevent-first is critical to protect against today’s sophisticated Gen V attacks.”

CheckPoint Software maintains that to strengthen defence against ransomware, organisations should have a robust, secure data backup solution in place, provide frequent cybersecurity awareness training to all employees, especially around phishing attacks, and enforce a strong password policy, requiring the use of multi-factor authentication. 

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