COVID-19: SA networks face 10-fold increase in attacks 

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Statistics from Kaspersky show a sharp increase in network attacks in SA between 15 and 21 March 2020. 

The number of affected devices peaked at around 310 000 over these few days, up from the 20 000 to 30 000 average, according to Kaspersky's research.

The increase coincides with many South Africans working remotely in response to national emergency containment measures in an effort to flatten the curve of spread of the COVID-19.

Maher Yamout, senior security researcher for the Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) at Kaspersky, says: “The region is seeing an increase in attempts to break into the organisations systems to establish control over them, sabotage their work, or access sensitive information. Remote working provides cyber criminals a prime opportunity to target devices, especially those that don’t necessarily have adequate IT security measures in place.”

He said the spike, although temporary, leads Kaspersky to believe that cyber criminals are eyeing the region due to the current circumstances, and are on the lookout for vulnerable devices to exploit. This is most likely due to the rapid increase in remote working protocols that have been initiated during this time frame, especially since the growth in attacks continued until the weekend.

According to Yamout, although the types of attack varied, a third of them were attempting to penetrate networks using brute force, or repetitive attempts at various password combinations – an effective technique when weak or repetitively used passwords are used, or systems are poorly configured.

He says the increase reinforces the need to implement critical security measures for remote working strategies, to ensure effective protection.

The company also shared some tips for employees to follow to stay safe when working remotely, such as using a VPN to connect securely to the corporate network, employing multi-factor authentication wherever possible, and ensuring all corporate devices are protected with adequate security software.

In addition, Kaspersky advises to segregate personal devices from corporate computers, ensure the latest available updates are installed regularly and only use corporate-approved teleconferencing software.

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