Technology in South Africa keeps growing, especially the use of the internet via smartphones and other devices such as tablets and laptops. People are now able to browse the internet on the go, compared to some decades ago.
As the use of the internet and devices expands, cyber-threats also increase, and 2019 especially saw a radical increase in cyber-attacks. An Accenture intelligence company, iDefense did a survey that identified the reason for the cyber-attacks and how businesses and others can protect themselves.
In the first quarter of 2019, malware attacks rose by 22% compared to the previous year’s first quarter, translating to at least 577 attack episodes per hour. Unfortunately, mobile phones were targeted more, with the country seeing a 100% rise in mobile banking apps frauds.
Between Mid-march and March 21 2020, businesses suffered network attacks and over 310,000 devices were attacked in one week. More people are now working remotely since the Covid-19 pandemic, increasing the cyber-threats to health care, financial and state agencies, which deal with highly sensitive data.
Some of the significant cyber-attacks include:
●Brute Force attacks
Brute attack methods use the trial and error method to guess encryption keys, login information such as user names and passwords. These attacks, as the name, suggest use brute force or excessive force to attempt to gain access to your accounts. Depending on your password’s strength or complexity, brute force may gain entry in a few seconds, or as long as several years.
Phishing is a standard method that uses email to scam victims. The victim usually receives an email purporting to be from a source they know and trust, such as a bank. The email will either have a link or attachment, which, when downloaded, leads you to a proxy site that belongs to the hackers. The site looks exactly like the original, and proceeds to prompt the victim to input their details such as username, password, credit card numbers, etc.
Ransomware is a type of malware that takes your data or device hostage. The malware encrypts your information, meaning you cannot access it. The attacker may leave a message on your device screen asking for a certain amount in ‘ransom,’ in exchange for the encryption key.
In July of 2019, a pre-paid electricity provider in South Africa was infected with ransomware. The company’s internal network, official website and web apps, were affected, leaving clients without power.
How to protect your organization from cyber-attacks
You may not altogether stop hackers, but you can make it a lot harder for them to get in by:
1.Installing a VPN
A VPN (Virtual Private Network) encrypts your company data. With employees working remotely, some are bound to log in from coffee shops or restaurants on the public Wi-Fi. A VPN ensures the sent or received communication via the public network is unreadable. Invest in a VPN to encrypt your traffic and prevent malicious actors from stealing your sensitive information.
2.Password best practices
Password best practices in an organization mean the employees have strong passwords on both devices and PCs. Strong passwords are alphanumeric, with upper plus lowercase letters, symbols and numbers. The password should change regularly, as well as when an employee leaves the company.
3.Installing Anti-Malware and Anti-virus software
Anti-malware and Antivirus software protects your devices from malware and viruses. The malware and viruses might be covertly injected into your system via malicious links and attachments that you might click on, or download.
4.Avoid clicking on links
Do not click on links that you suspect might be malicious. If in doubt, type in your browser the official URL of that organization sending you the email .Train your employees not to click on any links. They can hover on the link and check if it is an https or http, the former being the legit URL.
Firewalls will protect you from malware and viruses by blocking their entry into your device. The firewalls can be used concurrently with the anti-malware and anti-virus to make them more useful.
Getting hacked is becoming an all too uncomfortable reality. Anyone can be hacked, and especially organizations. Data is worth a lot on the dark web, and especially company data. With the Covid-19, pandemic forcing people to work remotely, hackers target these people who are the weak links, to attack companies. Taking the right precautions means you can better protect your company data and avoid lawsuits from clients for breach of confidentiality.