South Africa is easy pickings for hackers

06 July 2016 - 08:35 By GRAEME HOSKEN


International cyber criminals are fleecing South Africans of hundreds of millions of rands through sophisticated attacks on the country's financial institutions. Earlier this year, hackers stole more than R180-million from Standard Bank after obtaining credit card details and using them to draw money from dozens of ATMs in Japan in a co-ordinated strike.Driving the surge in cyber crime is the vulnerability of the software that companies use for critical business functions, analysts say.Last year, more than 6000 unique vulnerabilities around computer applications were recorded globally, according to computer application security firm DeltaGRiC Consulting.The biggest hindrance to South Africa's cyber security capabilities, claim experts, is the country's lack of skilled cyber security talent.Danny Myburgh, of computer forensic lab Cyanre, said international cyber security assessments showed a worrying trend."Breaches on average go undetected for 146 days."He said it took so long because the software that breached a company's computer security would have been designed to be difficult to detect, and because businesses often ignored application manufacturers' vulnerability alerts."They have a false sense of security in their security systems."The chief executive of the SA Banking Risk Information Centre, Kalyani Pillay, said that last year R778.6-million was lost through banking-related crimes, including cyber crime."As security is improved, criminals evolve and shift their focus to the new platforms banks develop to make banking easier."She said banks were not "passing the buck", but in respect of some risks, there was nothing they could do other than warn customers of the threats."The problem in South Africa," said Tunde Ogunkoya, of DeltaGRiC Consulting, "is that although companies, especially financial institutions, have excellent network security, they're highly vulnerable with regard to applications."Cyber criminals search for vulnerabilities in these systems and then attack."Bassie von Solms, director of the University of Johannesburg's cyber security centre, said: "South Africa has the world's third-highest number of cyber crime victims."South Africa faces a national crisis in terms of cyber security because of the lack of cyber security experts."

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