DDoS attacks up by 300% in Africa since 2019
Distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in Africa have increased by 300% in 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. The continent experienced a similar spike in February 2020, coinciding with global COVID-19 related lockdowns.
This is according to pan-African ICT service provider Seacom which added that with the unprecedented shift toward online working, cybercriminals have had access to a larger attack surface and more vulnerable home networks.
Unfortunately, this surge in attacks shows no sign of slowing down, the company stated.
“A DDoS attack is a type of targeted cyberattack on servers and networks that takes advantage of the specific capacity limits of network resources. The attackers will send multiple requests to a network, such as a company’s website, with the aim of overwhelming the network and saturating traffic volumes. This causes the network or services to stop functioning, making it inaccessible to normal users, as well as more vulnerable to further attacks,” said Seacom.
The company added that Africa experienced 382,500 DDoS attacks between January and July 2021. Of these, a massive 59% took place in Kenya and South Africa. While South Africa experienced fewer attacks in 2021 than in 2020, there was still a sizeable 188% increase in attacks in 2021 compared to 2019.
Kenya, alternatively, saw a staggering 2400% increase in attacks in 2021 compared to the same period 2019. It's clear that the tech-focused nations of Kenya and South Africa are taking the brunt of the onslaught. And, what should probably come as no surprise, the information services industry has been particularly impacted.
Increased cyber threats
According to a report by McAfee Enterprise and FireEye, Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19 , during the pandemic, 81% of global organisations experienced increased cyber threats with 79% experiencing downtime due to a cyber incident during a peak season.
In South Africa, the threat was even greater, with 90% of organisations experiencing increased cyber threats during COVID-19, and 85% of them experiencing down time due to cybersecurity risks during peak seasons, such as Black Friday, and the retail high season ahead of Christmas.
“It is imperative all businesses prioritize security technology to keep them protected, especially during the peak holiday season,” said Bryan Palma, CEO of the newly combined company. “Ninety-four percent of IT professionals want their organisation to improve its overall cyber readiness. Businesses must do more and need an intelligent security architecture for managing today’s sophisticated threat landscape.”
Carlo Bolzonello, country manager for McAfee in South Africa, added: “Ninety-seven percent of South African IT professionals say that their organisations could place a greater emphasis on overall cyber-readiness and strategies to prevent, protect and react to potential threats. This is really critical in the South African context, as it shows that local security professionals understand their weaknesses, and they have identified what they need for them to do their jobs better.”
Across the continent, 78% of all DDoS attacks that took place this year were targeted at this sector. Other affected industries include professional, scientific and technical services, finance and insurance, manufacturing, as well as retail trade.
What does this mean for business?
Seacom has asserted that DDoS attacks have a significant impact on businesses and can result in data breaches, financial losses due to recovery costs, downtime for critical business functions, and even loss of business reputation. As cybercriminals continue to develop and discover new attack vectors that exploit vulnerabilities exacerbated by the pandemic, it is crucial for businesses to ensure that they can adequately protect their IT infrastructure – or find managed services with the security expertise to do it for them.
Service providers and security experts are rising to the occasion to mitigate these increasing threats.
Seacom recently partnered NETSCOUT, a leading provider of cybersecurity, service assurance, and business analytics, to roll solutions out in Africa.
Steve Briggs, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at Seacom, said, “While many businesses are in the process of undergoing rapid digital transformation, cyberattacks are also reaching record-breaking figures in 2021. Fortunately, even as cyberattacks become more sophisticated year-on-year, so do the means to protect against them. Now, it is more important than ever for businesses to take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to cybersecurity.”