Hackers hit SA web users

2012-07-02 13:05

Moscow - Hackers have targeted South Africans with around three million attacks in the first three months of 2012, a security company has found.

According to research by Kaspersky Lab, South Africans were specifically targeted with both "offline" and "online" malicious software designed primarily to steal user transactional information.

"This data shows how frequently users are attacked by malware spread via removable USB drives, CDs and DVDs, and other 'offline' methods," Kaspersky Lab told News24.

While South Africa doesn't have the same exposure to hackers that users in more developed or connected societies might experience, the threat represents awareness among hackers that SA and other developing markets could become a lucrative target as more internet users come online.

According to statistics from the antivirus company, 2 908 487 local malware incidents were reported in the first three months of the year.


"Overall, 37.4% of users from South Africa were attacked by local threats during this period. This puts South Africa in the 95th place worldwide."

The Kaspersky Security Network which links users of the program reported that the most common method of attack was exploiting the web browser vulnerabilities.

"Infection in this type of attack takes place when visiting an infected website, without any intervention from the user and without their knowledge. And this is the number one method utilised by cybercriminals; the one used in the majority of attacks," the company said.

Social engineering tricks are also common in SA. Users are duped into scams intended to steal financial information.

A common scam involves one where a bank purportedly sends an e-mail claiming that a user's information has been compromised or that a user should update details.

In both cases, this attack also known as phishing, requires a user to enter banking details on a fraudulent website and the hacker uses the information to commit the crime in a matter of minutes.

Kaspersky said that web-based attacks put South Africans in the bottom tier of global attacks. The highest priority for cybercriminals is banking details at 57% of targeted attacks, followed by other online shopping systems at 12%.

"The top three most vulnerable programs for Windows PCs are Adobe Acrobat Reader, Oracle Java and Adobe Flash," the company said.


According to statistics from Blue Magnet Digital Solutions, SA had six million desktop internet users at the end of 2011, and 12 million mobile internet users.

Broadband internet still has low penetration in the country because of the high cost as a barrier to entry. Typical South African broadband costs are estimated to be between 286% and 480% more expensive than in Egypt.

A Russian user told News24 that he paid around R300 for an 80mbps fibre line with uncapped and unshaped data.

"Overall, 27.7% of users from South Africa were attacked by web-borne threats during this [three month] period. This places South Africa in the 111th place worldwide when it comes to the dangers associated with surfing the web."

Russian users experience the highest level of malware attacks globally and Kaspersky said that users should ensure that the latest updates for browsers, plugins and popular software are installed.

- Follow Duncan on Twitter

  • richard.hipkin - 2012-07-02 13:24

    South Africa is still heavily targeted because South Africans are stupid, they WILL click on that dodgy email and STILL enter their personal details. I work in the industry, it fascinates me that even after REPEATED warnings people still go ahead with it..

      Rob - 2012-07-02 13:34

      I have been in the industry for 15 years and have found that if you clearly communicate with the user, they don't do such things... Maybe it's not stupid South Africans but stupid IT staff that are the problem.

      richard.hipkin - 2012-07-02 14:33

      @Rob, try working where I do...

      customdesign - 2012-07-02 14:35

      We are not heavily targeted. There are 195 countries in the world, which makes us somewhere in the middle.

      ed.shimbles - 2012-07-02 14:42

      communications is in the hands of the communicator, quite simply

      davorin.dobrovic - 2012-07-02 14:56

      pointblank where do you actually work? "I work in the industry" doesn't inspire much confidence in the veracity of your claim.

  • Gavin - 2012-07-02 13:45

    when you get an email from your 'bank' hold your mouse cursor over the link embedded in the email - the first that you'll see in the popup window is that the link is about 14 feet long, with only the last part referring to the name of your bank. this morning I won a million pounds from a lottery I never entered and 10,000 ebucks from an FNB credit card transaction that I also don't have. if you are suspicious, contact your bank, they all have toll-free numbers listed on their websites.

  • marietjie.davel.1 - 2012-07-02 14:08

    looks like a new market opportunity for me...

  • fran.aphane - 2012-07-02 14:15

    Curiosity killed a cat. Lol

  • flysouth - 2012-07-02 15:58

    Phishing emails are one thing which are surely easy to deal with - just delete them! How many times have SA banks reiterated that they will NEVER send anything of importance to clients via email? Pulease, mense. However there are no less than 6000 websites hacked globally each day - usually all that is done by the hacker is to change the homepage to a page with some lurid and radical political message - these hackers are more accurately termed 'script-kiddies' because they do not very high-level hacker skills. One wonders at the mentality! However this amuses me "Broadband internet still has low penetration in the country.." It sure does, since in SA we do not actually have what is known as Broadband - ta, Telkom! Other countries such as S.Korea and even Croatia have Broadband - we have a weak imitation which is slow, sluggish and unreliable! I speak from 15 years experience encompassing the old dial up modems to the highest speed ADSL line one can buy today.

  • Marco - 2012-07-02 18:50

    are you telling me that those ads telling me that those ads where legal teenage girls want to have nsa sex with married middle aged men are a scam? THOSE BASTARDS!!!!!

  • kathrine.mya - 2012-07-03 08:27

    South Africa dint get develop much in Network security domain so its way to go

  • patsy.smith.125 - 2012-07-03 15:40

    I'm old, and have only had all the IT mod cons for just over a year. Two things I do know - IF IN DOUBT, DELETE....and you cannot win a lottery etc that you haven't entered

  • veryll.bradshaw - 2012-07-04 11:18

    I have received 4 emails so far and have forwarded to the authorities

  • john.halfpenny.395 - 2012-07-05 08:32

    I bet if you worked on % of people online being hacked we'd make the top 10. The Masses are starting to come online in this country and we all know at which level of intellect they operate on. Having said that Kaspersky is a great AV company. Probably the best on the market. Yet if you're not a moron you don't need a good AV software. AVG free is perfect really.

  • pages:
  • 1