Hackers target 'easy' African countries

Computer security. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)
Computer security. (Duncan Alfreds, Fin24)

Cape Town – African countries are being actively targeted by cyber criminals, a security company has found.

According to data from Check Point, eight countries in Africa are among the top 20 targeted globally out of 140 countries examined in October and November.

“We’re seeing an ongoing trend of cyber criminals exploiting weaker security controls in less developed African nations to target their more advanced counterparts,” said Doros Hadjizenonos, country manager of Check Point South Africa.

Tanzania was the most targeted African country with Namibia second, Cameroon (3rd), Mauritius (6th) and Tunisia (7th) in the top 10. South Africa slipped from 63rd to 67th.

Hadjizenonos said the rise of mobile devices in the workplace has given hackers the opportunity to attack companies.

“The rise in mobile malware also highlights the growing need for organisations to protect their employees’ mobile devices, which process and carry valuable corporate data. Attackers have realised that these devices are an easier target compared with corporate networks, so it’s critical that organisations deploy protection to prevent them being exploited and stop data leakage.”

Top three malware

READ: The top SA banking malware is...

The company identified 1 200 malware families used to carry out cyber attacks and found that two - Conficker and Necurs – focus on disabling security services on networks.

This facilitates easier access for downloads of other malicious software programs, increasing the vulnerability of the network.

“The data for November highlights the fact that attackers are focusing their efforts on malware that can disable security services and infect machines stealthily so they can be more easily exploited,” said Hadjizenonos.

The top three malware families accounted for 40% of attacks.

Conficker accounted for 20% of attacks. Computers infected with the malware are controlled by a botnet. This gives criminals the ability to control the machine and disable network security.

Cutwail botnet is used for sending spam and launching DDoS (Distributed Denial of Service) attacks and Necurs is able to avoid detection as well download additional malware on to computers.

“Organisations face a daily battle to ensure that their networks are not compromised by cybercriminals and it is vital that they know what they are up against,” Hadjizenonos said.

Check Point discovered that malware increased by 17% during November with Xinyin, Ztorg and AndroRAT being the top three malware families.

“There were approximately double the amount of attacks compared to the previous month, and for AndoRAT the increase was tenfold. All three variants target Android devices,” the company said.

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