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Financial gain remains main motivation for cybercriminals in Africa

Financial gain remains main motivation for cybercriminals in Africa

As Africa joins other regions of the world in highlighting the need for organisations and individuals to prioritise cybersecurity, a local expert has emphasised the financial repercussions of a cyberattack.

Cybercriminals are deploying a diverse range of banking trojans and ransomware according to Check Point's latest Global Threat Impact Index which shows that Roughted, a form of large scale malvertising used to deliver various malicious websites and payloads, remains the top malware both globally and in Africa.

Doros Hadjizenonos, Country Manager of Check Point South Africa says cybercriminals are largely only interested in making money from their malicious actions.

"Financial gain is the major motive for the vast majority of cybercrime, and unfortunately criminals have a wide range of tools at their disposal to achieve this. To see both a highly effective ransomware variant and a range of banking Trojans in the top ten most prevalent malware families really underlines how tenacious and sophisticated malicious hackers can be in their attempts to extort money. Organisations need to be both vigilant and proactive in order to protect their networks."

South Africa jumped 11 places on the Global Threat Impact Index during the month of August (when the latest data was compiled) and now sits at number 21 on the list out of all countries worldwide.

Kenya's risk ranking improved and dropped 13 places to number 39 on the list. Nigeria remains amongst the top ten countries at highest risk of cyberattack and is currently placed at number nine on the list after climbing one position.

Roughted, Fireball, Globeimposter and Virut are among the most popular malware in all three African countries, according to the Index.

"It's vital for organisations to be alert to these shifting threats, to simultaneously keep their defences up against well-known malware families, new variants and new zero-day threats. This requires a multi-layered cybersecurity strategy, which can respond to a broad range of continually evolving attack types," says Hadjizenonos.

Growing cybersecurity awareness

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has announced that it is joining South Africa's Department of Telecommunications & Postal Services and a host of other African organisations and governments which regard October as National Cyber Security Awareness Month (NCSAM).

The NCC issued a statement in which it says NCSAM is "an opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of cybersecurity and to equip the Nigerian public with the tools and resources they need to stay safe."

Dominic Cull, spokesperson for the Internet Service Providers' Association (ISPA), which is also marking NCSAM through its Online Safety Project, says everyone should be less trusting of what they find online.

"Staying safe online is all about exercising common sense and taking everything you read, see and hear with a pinch of salt. The world's full of unsavoury characters and the virtual world's their cover," said Cull.

The ISPA has designed posters addressing common problems highlighted by NCSAM such as fake banking sites and the infection of computers by malicious software, amongst other increasingly-serious online safety issues. October and the 5th specifically were first set aside to raise awareness about cyber security to ensure every citizen is safe online by the United States in 2004.

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