Presented by Orange Cyberdefense

Cyber extortion incidents up by 70% in Africa this year – Download this must-read cybersecurity report

 ·6 Dec 2023

Orange Cyberdefense has published its Security Navigator 2024 report, revealing the latest trends in the cybersecurity sector.

It gathered, cross-referenced, and analysed data from various sources to paint a broad and complex picture of the cybersecurity industry.

“The Security Navigator report is a tool we created to help businesses understand the current cybersecurity landscape, and to encourage conversations around the latest trends,” said Wicus Ross, Senior Security Researcher at Orange Cyberdefense.

“It examines two types of data sets –  the first being internal proprietary data which includes incident data, telemetry, log sources etc. from Orange Cyberdefense clients worldwide, and the second being external data sets – more public data and data we get from our partners.”

“Every time I compare our latest Security Navigator report to the previous one, I see clear improvements – which helps to improve the quality of conversations that can be had around cybersecurity.”

Orange Cyberdefense experts from South Africa feature prominently in the Global report.

“We’re incredibly proud of our local experts for their contributions to this report. Our global Security Research Centre, which produces the bulk of the Security Navigator, is headed by South African Charl van der Walt, ably supported by Wicus Ross, and this year’s report sees articles published by Ulrich Swart, Roberto Arico, Jacques Coertze and Dominic White from the South African team.”

“We hope readers and businesses in particular will benefit from this research and the massive amount of work that has gone into collecting, analysing and compiling it.” said Dillon Bensusan, Marketing Manager of Orange Cyberdefense South Africa.

Cyber extortion on the rise

A key finding in the report is that over the past 12 months, cyber extortion victims increased by 46% compared to 2022.

Furthermore, cyber extortion incidents grew by 70% in Africa – showing that malicious parties are increasingly more active outside of countries like the US, Canada, and the UK.

“In African countries, we found that there was less focus on manufacturing companies than in developed nations” said Ross.

“Instead, we saw a larger focus on financial and insurance companies by threat actors – while in South Africa in particular, we saw a significant focus on educational organisations and public administration entities.”

Ross also noted that South Africa is an interesting case, as it combines a high level of technological capabilities, infrastructure, and use, with a lack of government support in terms of education and defense.

The rise of hacktivism

The report also identified a massive increase in hacktivism globally, with 85% of all these attacks targeting Europe.

This was driven by the conflict between Russia and Ukraine, with most attacks targeting countries that are geographically close to the two warring countries.

DDoS attacks were the most popular form of hacktivism, and Orange Cyberdefense noted that while certain hacktivist groups oversell their abilities, others have developed worryingly-strong DDoS capabilities.

“Hacktivists are evolving from technical direct attacks on infrastructure to what we call cognitive attacks, the spread of misinformation and attempts to turn communities against each other,” said Ross.

“This is something South Africans should be cognisant of given our upcoming political activities.”

Maturity is a big factor in avoiding cybercrime

A powerful finding in the report is that multi-year Orange Cyberdefense clients were up to four-times better than new clients at detection efficiency.

While 1–10-month clients reported 15.33% of all events as unknown, this dropped to 4.1% for clients who had been on board for 41-50 months.

“A key takeaway from the report is that businesses should not fixate on reacting to individual threats as they rear their head,” said Ross.

“Instead of worrying about the monster under the bed, be proactive in defending yourself through long-term, iterative cybersecurity strategies.”

Ross also highlighted the importance of finding a trusted partner who can help businesses verify or define their security strategies and act as a sounding board for big security decisions – “make sure that you pick your partners carefully, that you trust them and that you can build a relationship with them where they understand you and your business and advise you accordingly. This is a process and takes time to develop.”

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