A 2018 report revealed that cyber incidents remain a top threat, with 38% being from South African businesses. A cyber attack is a deliberate act through cyberspace to manipulate or destroy computers, networks or the information in them. Cyber attacks may include the following consequences:
- Identity theft, fraud, extortion
- Malware, pharming, phishing, spamming, spoofing, spyware, Trojans and viruses
- Stolen hardware, such as laptops or mobile devices
- Breach of access
- Password sniffing
- System infiltration
- Website defacement
- Private and public Web browser exploits
- Instant messaging abuse
- Intellectual property (IP) theft or unauthorized access
The Institute for Security Technology Studies at Dartmouth University researches and investigates cyberattack issues facing law enforcement investigations; and focuses on the continuous development of IP tracing, data analysis, real-time interception and national data sharing.
How do cyber attacks affect South Africa?
The FBI in the United States listed South Africa as the sixth most active country where cyber crime took place. Cybercrime statistics recently posted by the South African Banking Risk Information Centre show that South Africans lose more than R2.2 billion to internet fraud and phishing attacks annually. It is estimated that in two to three years the proceeds from cybercrime would outweigh those from all other forms of crime combined, as it continues to grow.
Cybercrime is any crime involving a computer or the internet. South Africa had proven to be a particularly fertile ground for cybercrime due to it being a “lawless society”, with cybercrime syndicates knowing that law enforcement was “paper thin”, with low chances of being arrested and successfully convicted, said Dave Loxton, head of crime and forensics at Werkmans.
Symantec’s Antonio Forzieri says that one in 214 emails sent in South Africa last year was a spear phishing attack. These attacks can cause serious personal distress, financial loss and are achieved by the simple click of a malicious link in an email.