• A new report by Accenture found that South Africa had the third-highest number of cybercrime victims last year.
  • Fraud with mobile banking applications doubled in a year,
  • The report also noted that talk about South Africa among criminals on the so-called dark web has increased markedly since 2016.
  • For more articles, go to www.BusinessInsider.co.za.


Last year, South Africa had the third-highest number of cybercrime victims of any country, despite ranking 25th in population, a new report by consultancy Accenture shows.

This was due in part to the rapid increase in people using banking apps, which are often targeted by hackers. Fraud via mobile banking applications doubled in a year, contributing to the R2.2 billion in losses due to cyber attacks in South Africa.

South Africans suffered 577 malware attacks per hour, an increase of 22% from the previous year. (A malware attack is when criminals seek to install malicious software on a device to steal personal information, and money.)

“In addition to these worrying general trends, 2019 was a year in which a range of different threat actors found success when attacking high-profile South African targets, from internet service providers to electricity providers,” says Clive Brindley, senior manager within the security practice at Accenture in Africa.

Last year, a ransomware attack paralysed Johannesburg agency City Power’s systemswhile the City of Johannesburg itself was hit by a group who called themselves the Shadow Kill Hackers demanding a ransom payment in bitcoin. Shortly thereafter, hackers launched distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks on the local banks, flooding them with fake traffic. The criminals also demanded a ransom.

The report analysed mentions of South Africa among the criminal underground on the dark web (the part of the internet not visible to search engines). Up to 2014, South Africa hardly featured – but especially from 2016 interest has increased markedly.

Source: Accenture

Accenture found that some of these criminals may view South Africa as a testing ground for malware because cybersecurity measures are not as robust here.

Ransomware is now on sale on the dark web for as low as $100 (around R1,700), making it accessible even to the most unskilled criminals, says Brindley.

The skilled criminals are typically targeting larger companies, thought to be able to afford to pay higher ransoms, he adds.

“The increased focus on South Africa by cyber threat actors is due to interconnected factors such as lack of investment in cyber security, developing cybercrime legislation and law enforcement training, poor public knowledge of cyber threats – to mention a few,” says Brindley.

“South Africa has been slow to adopt legislation to tackle cybercrime, and the National Assembly finally adopted the Cyber Crimes Bill in January 2020."

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