Working from home raises risk of cyber attacks

Bongani Ndlovu, Chronicle Reporter
Working from home during the Covid-19 pandemic has increased the risk of cyber-attacks for businesses in over 70 percent of companies in Zimbabwe.

This comes at a time when 90 percent of IT decision makers across South Africa, Kenya and Zimbabwe have accelerated their cyber security due to the substantial emergence of digital ways of working.

This is according to the latest 2021 research undertaken by leading pan-African technology group Liquid Intelligent Technologies, a subsidiary of Econet Global, and released yesterday.

A cyber-attack is an attempt to disable computers, steal data, or use a breached computer system to launch additional attacks. Cyber-criminals use different methods to launch a cyber-attack that includes malware, phishing, ransomware, man-in-the-middle attack, or other methods.

The study established some of the main concerns about cyber security threats and the most significant impacts of digital breaches on an organisational level.

According to the research, 79 percent of businesses from all three countries attribute an increase in cyber security threats to the advent of remote working.

Data breaches like data extortion, data leakage and data disclosure constitute almost 71 percent of the cyber-attacks for Kenyan businesses, and over 70 percent of South African and Zimbabwean organisations consider email attacks like phishing the most prominent digital threats.

During an online press conference on the launch of the Cyber Security Report 2021 – State of Cyber Security in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, Ms Lorreta Songola, regional chief business officer, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Southern Africa, said in Zimbabwe they dealt with a case of ransomware.

“From a ransomware perspective I wouldn’t give a figure about the percentage, but we have had a case of one institution that was hacked, but I can’t give out the name. this is for customer data privacy,” said Ms Songola.

Ransomware is a form of malware designed to encrypt files on a device, rendering any files and the systems that rely on them unusable. Malicious actors then demand ransom in exchange for decryption

Mr Ignus de Villiers, group head of cyber security, Liquid Intelligent Technologies, added saying, the highest threats in Zimbabwe were from ransomware and malware.

“One of the findings was that one of the highest threats indicated by the participants in Zimbabwe was in fact that malware and ransomware, is one of the biggest threats within the environment. In South Africa I have been involved in 10 to 12 organisations that have been impacted by ransomware,” said Mr de Villiers.

He said this confirms that cyber security should be at the centre of every business conversation.

“There is a need to establish an appropriate cyber security framework that matches the business environment.

Critically, the framework must look beyond technical security controls to include information security management covering governance, risk, compliance, people, processes and technology,” said Mr de Villiers.

According to the report, participants from the research also indicated an increased consumption of cloud-based services this year, with the numbers being as high as 96 percent in South Africa, 95 percent in Kenya and 75 percent in Zimbabwe. This comes from a jump in Microsoft Office 365, Teams, Zoom, Google Workspace, Microsoft Azure, and Amazon Web Services.

Inevitably, cyber security threats and concerns seem to be spiralling up as the workforce continues to shift to working through digital platforms.

According to the research, managing user access to information, data loss and recovery, visibility and control of data, and compliance challenges remain some of the biggest concerns for organisations. Almost 80 percent of organisations that participated in this research from Zimbabwe, South Africa and Kenya agree that cyber security threats have increased over the past year.

According to the study, an emerging trend for 2021 is that 53 percent of the respondents emphasise security and data protection as significant concerns. Some of the biggest security concerns cited by businesses using cloud services are managing user access to information, data loss, recovery and lack of security controls made available by cloud providers. The research also pointed out email attacks, web-based attacks, social engineering, malware, ransomware and data breaches to be the top concerns around cyber security in 2021.

The 2021 research from Liquid takes a deep dive into the current and emerging trends for cyber security to help businesses understand the dynamic nature of the cyber security threat landscape._ Follow on Twitter @bonganinkunzi

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