Kenya remains key hotspot for cybercriminals amid covid uncertainties

Written By: Ronald Owili

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Kenya has been listed among the top countries in Africa to witness sustained cyberattacks in 2021 due to economic turbulence and COVID-19 uncertainties which has seen a rise in remote working.

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A research by cybersecurity firm, Kaspersky lists Kenya, South Africa, and Nigeria as countries expected to face Advanced Persistent Threats (ATPs) due to their high internet adoption.

“Even though every country globally has had to deal with the pandemic in its own way, developing economies across Africa have been especially hard hit by national lockdowns and limited business activity. And thanks to the increased connectedness of people, the rise in unemployment will not only see a spike in traditional crime, but this will also extend to the digital environment – something we are already seeing,” said Lehan van den Heever, Enterprise Cyber Security Advisor for Kaspersky in Africa.

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According to the firm, malware attacks on individuals, corporate, government agencies, and other organizations already topped 28 million as at the close of August 2020.

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“Our researchers anticipate that in 2021, across the globe through where Africa is not immune, there will be a change in threat actors’ approach to the execution of APT attacks and as such, organisations must pay special attention to generic malware as it will likely be used to deploy more sophisticated threats,” van den Heever warns.

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The attacks on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and financial institutions are expected to emanate from hackers-for-hire and cyber mercenary groups who phish for sensitive, private information that can be used in disputes to win court rulings or to steal business trade secrets and provide their ‘employers’ with competitive intelligence to get ahead in the market, the firm said.

“Businesses are under pressure to differentiate themselves in a highly competitive market as they struggle to survive these trying times, amplified further by the effects of COVID-19. The current landscape may likely lead to bankruptcy and an increase in legal disputes in court. This makes an ideal breeding ground for these malicious groups to operate in. And although such activity has not been rife in Africa yet, the region is not immune to this cyber threat.”

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In the quarter ending September 2020, the Communications Authority (CA) reported a 152.9% increase in cyber-attacks which stood at 35.2 million, from 13.9 million detected in the previous quarter.

CA attributed the increase in cyberattacks to remote working and increased uptake of e-commerce in response to the COVID-19 pandemic which increased the vulnerability of organizations and businesses to cybercriminals who targeted remote working systems and tools, and e-commerce sites for fraudulent gains.


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