In the digital space, computers are often open to some vulnerabilities which cost users and industries money. A form of these vulnerabilities is shown in the form of malware. Malware is software that is installed on a computer without the user’s consent and that performs malicious actions, such as stealing passwords or money. They are usually remotely controlled and computers are exposed through malicious links that download infected files to the computer. Cyber security experts have various ways of detecting this software, but the most common is scanning an infected device.
A Russian multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, Kaspersky, has revealed that Malware was detected and blocked on 32.6 percent of industrial computers in Nigeria, 34.5 per cent in Kenya, and 29.1 per cent in South Africa, during the first half of 2023. According to the cybersecurity firm, the most significant and targeted threats detected on ICS computers in selected countries of Africa showed that the threat landscape could vary between countries and industries due to the differences in the security maturity of different countries/industries and the current focus of threat actors.
Africa was the most attacked region in the first half of 2023.
Overall, attacks were detected on 40.3 percent of ICS computers, making Africa the most attacked region. The top industries under attack were energy (45.9 percent), engineering and integration (44 percent), and building automation (40 percent), adding that all the attacks were blocked after detection. Explaining ICS computers, the firm said that they are used in oil and gas, energy, automotive manufacturing, building automation infrastructures, and other spheres to perform a range of operational technology functions — from the workstations of engineers and operators to supervisory control and data acquisition servers and Human Machine Interface.
According to the company, cyberattacks on industrial computers are considered to be extremely dangerous as they may cause material losses and production downtime for the controlled production line and even the facility as a whole. Moreover, industrial enterprises put out of service can seriously undermine a region’s social welfare, ecology, and macroeconomics. The firm highlighted that the different types of cyber threats that OT-related computers face include malicious scripts, spy trojans, worms, ransomware, and others.
ICS expert comments on Africa’s digital infrastructure.
Furthermore, Africa had the highest percentage of ICS computers on which spyware was blocked (9.8 percent), followed by the Middle East and Southeast Asia with 8.3 percent and 8.1 percent respectively. The global average stood at 6.1 percent. Commenting on the issue, Head of Kaspersky ICS CERT, Evgeny Goncharov, said that Africa’s industrial landscape is diverse, ranging from large-scale mining operations to small-scale agriculture. This means that ICS cybersecurity solutions need to be adaptable to various sectors and technologies.
Also, he said that in some regions, legacy ICS systems that lack modern security features are still in use. These systems are often more vulnerable to cyberthreats and require significant upgrades. Also, some critical infrastructure in Africa is located in remote areas with limited connectivity, which can make it difficult to monitor and secure ICS assets effectively. Goncharov further noted that by understanding their risks, organizations could make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and efficiently fortify their defenses.
FG reportedly blocked over 200 attacks during the elections.
Meanwhile, the Managing Director of Galaxy Backbone, Prof. Muhammad Abubakar, on Tuesday, disclosed that the Federal Government blocked over 200 cyberattacks during the February 25 presidential and National Assembly elections. He had made this disclosure at the opening session of a two-day ministerial training for GBB board members and management in March 2023 in Abuja. The Federal Government had on February 23, 2023 inaugurated a committee for cyberspace and Information and Communication Technology infrastructure protection ahead of the 2023 general elections.