Many security experts are warning us that the African soil is the next big target for cybercriminals. Government and commercial services are being attacked by hackers on a daily basis. The problem arose as more and more people got access to the internet. A massive number of new websites is popping up every day, but the biggest question is - are they safe enough? One of the hottest topics today is whether security professionals in Africa are moving fast enough to beat cybercriminals.
The ever-evolving cyber threats
You can't find a person that, at some point, didn't receive the infamous e-mail of an African prince looking for his successor, promising millions of dollars to you, only if you click on the link in the e-mail. These kinds of scams were extremely popular a few years ago. However, hackers have evolved over time, and they are using more sophisticated methods.
They progressed from stealing usernames and passwords to attacking banks and stealing credit card information and bank accounts. For instance, recent reports for cybersecurity in Kenya state that businesses lose almost $150 million every year. There are over 6000 hacker attacks happening each month. If we take into consideration that many new technologies pop up every month, like the new tech grid used for crypto mining, that only means there are more targets for cybercriminals.
The core problem
At one point, one must ask the obvious question - how is it possible that this many attacks happen in Africa on a daily basis? The answer is pretty simple, cybersecurity is at a low level. The protection standards are below average, and the awareness of the hacker attacks must be raised to the highest level.
The quality of websites
One of the common problems is that the quality of the services of a website comes before security. With the growing usage of the internet, the competition on the market is fierce. Business owners don't realize the importance of online security, so they lose a lot of money. It is even worse that government sites have the same issues. There are many instances where they decide to use pre-built website templates instead of building a website from scratch.
This tactic can be exploited on many levels, and it is not a good way to protect sensitive data. So, how is it possible that websites of high importance are not protected enough?
Software companies are under pressure
Software companies that are in charge of protecting websites are constantly under tremendous amounts of pressure. It often happens that the delivery timeframe is short, and they don't have enough time to build a proper security network for a website. Something that requires months of programming they have to deliver in weeks.
The consequences of substandard levels of security
If we look at a website with a typical level of security, it usually takes 15 to 20 minutes for a hacker to breach its network. Once they have access, hackers can do what they want, whether it is to steal data, post information, or infiltrate without anyone knowing. There are instances where no one is aware of an attack that happened over a year ago.
Also, many companies choose not to reveal the attack to the public, and try to deal with it secretly. However, is the security moving fast enough to keep them protected in the future?
Is Africa safe?
Cyber-attacks are much different from actual physical attacks. Hackers’ attacks are silent and, most of the time, they happen without anyone realizing it. So, we must ask ourselves - is it safe enough to go to Africa? Insuring your precious cargo when transferring it overseas is one thing, but how can you protect your credit card details and sensitive info from hacker attacks?
As with every country, there are places where you can go, and there are places that you shouldn't visit at any cost. Even though online attacks are a hot topic in Africa, violence and crime cause more fear. If you wish to visit Africa, there are plenty of wonderful, safe places to see, like Rwanda, Botswana, Mauritius, Seychelles, Morocco. On another note, you should avoid Sudan, Somalia, Libya or Mali. These countries have high levels of criminal threats.
The future of cybersecurity in Africa
So, with a high level of cyber threats in Africa, what is the best course of action to protect ourselves? One of the examples of how Africa fights cybercriminals is the opening of the Africahackon, a forum where cybersecurity experts can join forces to work together, trying to solve the issue of hacker attacks.
Another even more important aspect of this forum is that it gathers many young people who have recently acquired new computer skills. They try to educate them and teach them not to use these skills for criminal activities. Instead, they should turn towards learning how to protect themselves and their friends. It is virtually impossible to stop all the hacker attacks, but if we educate people, we can at least curb this issue by a little.
Many countries have funding for the development of cybersecurity technologies. That is an excellent way to reward companies for contributing to this crucial cause. This practice should be implemented in Africa as well. The only question that remains is, are security professionals in Africa moving fast enough to beat cyber criminals?