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Wednesday, Oct 17th

Africa must urgently upgrade systems to combat new cyber threats

Africa must urgently upgrade systems to combat new cyber threats

Africa needs to drastically improve its cyber security and cyber crime detection systems to combat emerging cyber threats says Steve McWhirter, Vice President of Asia Pacific, Middle East, and Africa at Check Point Software Technologies.

According to the company's latest global threat index released in October, Botswana (4th globally) is the most threatened country on the continent, followed by Morocco (7), Cameroon (8), Egypt (12), Nigeria (13), Malawi (17), Uganda (18), then Zambia (20).

Speaking to ITWeb Africa during the Check Point Experience 2017 conference held yesterday in SA, McWhirter said the continent has too much of the old stuff and needs to upgrade. "If that were to happen, it would lift the profile of protection much higher and there's no doubt that people look around and pick the least common denominator, your best defence is ensuring that they don't go after you."

McWhirter added; "If you look at the threat landscape, you have threats that you know about which are very easy to defend against, but the threats to really worry about are the ones never heard of, and that's where the continent hasn't managed its transition yet."

Tony Jarvis, Chief strategist of threat prevention for APAC, Middle East, and Africa at Check Point said, "When we look at what's happening, at what we call the threat landscape, we essentially see a lot of new and sophisticated nation-state attacks.

"These are attacks developed by countries that have domestic resources, massive budgets, and very talented individuals, designed perhaps initially to infiltrate a specific victim. What has happened recently is that some of these attacks, which are very powerful, have been leaked to not just the hands of very professional attackers, but essentially into the general public."

Research released by other IT security firms, including Symantec and Fortinet, reflect a similar sentiment.

Symantec's cybercrime and cybersecurity trends in Africa 2016 report, states, "With a young population that is rapidly adopting new technologies; Africa is on the verge of an internet boom. To keep pace, Africa needs to urgently address efforts to combat cybercrime and improve its cybersecurity posture."

Fortinet's Global Threat Landscape Report for Q2 2017, 90% of organisations recorded attacks targeting system and device vulnerabilities that were at least three years old.

Despite Africa having a higher threat landscape compared to global counterparts, McWhirter said the continent does not experience as much cyber crime.

He says this is because the continent is somewhat removed from the international landscape.

"That's not a bad thing when it comes to this topic, because it's not top of mind to criminals. But if people think that is a 'get out of jail free card', it's not because as long as you've got the internet you're exposed, it's pure and simple. In terms of cyber threats, I'd say the continent is getting its proportionate share - but a lot of that is because of the remoteness, however, you do not assume that continues. When people go after personal data on the internet, there are no borders or countries."

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