Cybersecurity statistics show a sharp spike in network attacks in South Africa between March 15 and 21, with affected devices increasing from 20 000 to 30 000 a day on average to a peak at about 310 000 over these few days, cybersecurity multinational Kaspersky says.
This coincided with a time in South Africa − as well as many other countries across the world − when remote working increased in response to national emergency containment measures being put in place in an effort to flatten the curve of the spread of the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19.
The attack types used varied approaches and vectors; however, a third of them were attempts to penetrate a network with brute forcing of passwords, which are repetitive attempts at various password combinations. This technique is very common and often works well with weak or repetitively used passwords or poorly configured systems, said Kaspersky Global Research and Analysis Team senior security researcher Maher Yamout.
The region was seeing an increase in attempts to break into organisations’ systems to establish control over them, sabotage their work or access sensitive information. Remote working provides cybercriminals a prime opportunity to target devices, especially those that do not necessarily have adequate information technology security measures in place, he said.
“Such a spike, although temporary, leads us to believe that cybercriminals have keenly been on the lookout for vulnerable devices to exploit in the region given the current circumstances, as well as likely owing to the rapid increase in remote working protocols that have been initiated during this time, especially given that the growth in attacks continued until the weekend,” he said.
“Statistics of network attacks for the past two months show the numbers never going above 45 000 attacks a day, while in the last week this number reached more than 300 000. In reviewing this spike in attacks, it certainly reinforces the need to institute critical security measures for remote working strategies to ensure effective protection. However, with the spike dropping again, such advice is likely being onboarded and taken seriously, which is great to see, and we hope continues.”
Kaspersky, along with other market commentators, have shared advice linked to working from home strategies and the important security elements to consider, as this practice becomes more standard for many businesses in light of the global pandemic.
Kaspersky's top tips for employees when working remotely: Make use of a virtual private network to connect securely to the corporate network, use multi-factor authentication wherever possible and ensure all corporate devices – including mobiles, laptops and tablets are protected with adequate security software.
Additionally, segregate your personal devices and life from corporate computers, ensure the latest available updates are installed regularly and only use corporate-approved teleconferencing software.
Finally, the company advised that workers practice basic cybersecurity rules including not clicking on emails from strangers or unknown sources, not opening attachments received from unknown senders, only using strong passwords and not connecting to unprotected or public WiFi.