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‘Increase In Cyber-Attacks Focused On Covid-19’

PUBLISHED: Tue, 25 Aug 2020 09:38:12 GMT

At the first-ever Future of Work Virtual Conference hosted by CNBC Africa, on August 20, more than 2,000 global viewers engaged with industry experts on digital opportunities for the continent.

At the first-ever Future of Work Virtual Conference hosted by CNBC Africa, on August 20, more than 2,000 global viewers engaged with industry experts on digital opportunities for the continent.

At the all-day virtual summit, the second panel discussion, titled ‘Cybersecurity for the distributed, hyperconnected workplace’, hosted by Chris Bishop, delved into why protecting valuable data and other corporate resources from cybercriminals is key.

The session included as panelists Patrick Grillo, Senior Director of Security Strategy at Fortinet; Algirde Pipikaite, Project Lead, Industry Solutions, Centre for Cybersecurity: World Economic Forum; and Eric Mc Gee, Associate Director: Cyber Risk Services Team: Deloitte.

Pipikaite noted that cybercrime is on the increase globally because the possibility of being caught is very low and the rewards are high. “This has been further accentuated by the use and abuse of the coronavirus pandemic over the last seven months… The good news is that [cybercrime] cases have fallen to 61,000 on a weekly basis when compared to the 200,000 in the first month of the pandemic, but the bad news is that normal attacks are on the increase again,” said Pipikaite.

Mc Gee said Africa has also seen a large increase in attacks focused on the pandemic. “We’ve seen two major attacks this week alone in South Africa and Africa and it will continue. The topic of the day [Covid-19] will be the means used to attack individuals.”

Grillo noted the sophistication of the attacks, saying a few years ago it was ransomware, then cryptojacking – using other people’s computers to mine Bitcoin – and now it’s Covid-19. “While true hackers are out there – those who find the unknowns and take advantage of it, hacking or launching cyber-attacks is now a service.”

You don’t have to be hacker to do it, all you need is money because going on the dark web, you can find whatever you need, he pointed out. “They’re priced by day or week, have service level agreements, beta-testing, alpha-testing; it is a business.”

Pipikaite also added that hackers are taking note of the number of organizations who will let staff work remotely and are automating and advancing their technologies to exploit that.

“Africa has enormous potential to turn cybersecurity into a massive opportunity due to its young population when compared to the rest of the world, said Pipikaite.

“By providing a digital skillset education focused on cybersecurity awareness and the importance of it, Africa could ensure that their future economy will be secure.”

Grillo shared key points on how organizations can protect themselves and counter cybersecurity threats. “An ongoing education process is absolutely essential to take what is normally the weakest link in the chain and make it your first line of defence.” He added that companies should run their own campaigns to try to trick employees into giving up information.

“There is no one technology that will keep an organization safe and quite honestly, no technology,” said Grillo.

“There are multiple layers to security; you want to prevent or block as much of these attacks coming in, because regardless of the headlines, the vast majority of malware that’s used in these attacks is something we already know about.”


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