Drone warning for businesses in South Africa

 ·22 Oct 2023

Drones are growing in popularity in South Africa, but employees there are major concerns over data privacy.

Security issues have often been linked with drones, but mainly in a way to deter crime.

The City of Cape Town earlier this year said it would invest millions in technology to fight crime, with drones part of the plane.

Last year, responding in a written parliamentary Q&A, Police Minister Bheki Cele said that the South African Police Service would buy more than 150 drones over the next three years.

However, there are also concerns about the potential risks that drones bring to businesses.

According to Kaspersky’s latest Business Digitisation survey, 44% of employees surveyed in South Africa are scared of drone spying.

“Corporate spies and hackers use drones to get trade secrets, confidential information, and other sensitive data from corporations and data centres,” Kaspersky said.

“A drone can carry a device for hacking into corporate networks – for instance, a smartphone, a compact computer (e.g., Raspberry Pi), or a signal interceptor (e.g., Wi-Fi Pineapple¹), and hackers use these devices to access corporate data and disrupt communications. All wireless communication (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, RFID, etc.) is vulnerable to drone attacks.”

Kaspersky added that drones add an additional threat to cyberespionage as they can access data channels that common off-site hackers can not access.

Overall, the biggest fears of drones were found in the IT, manufacturing and energy spheres, with 63% of South African employees stating that their organisation would benefit from installing a drone detection system.

This would include a combination of sensors, such as cameras, radars and jammers, to track drone activity.

Altogether, 75% of respondents in South Africa said that they fear cyberespionage within their industry.

The biggest concern revolved around the organisations potentially losing money (35%) and intellectual property (29%), as well as harming business reputation (17%).

“Our research showed that most business representatives understand the dangers of cyberespionage. Getting information on the tactics, techniques and procedures used by cyber spies helps organisations adapt their defenses and develop countermeasures to thwart these tactics effectively,” said Andrew Voges, General Manager for Africa, Kaspersky.

“Cyberespionage is typically carried out by the means of phishing, malware, exploits, and targeted attacks, but today we also need to take the threat of drone spying into account.”

Read: Government working on a new streaming service for South Africa

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