African businesses’ vulnerability to cyber attacks worsened by pandemic: Report

Hacker attacking internet/Getty Images

The risk of cyber attack among large and small business entities in Africa escalated at the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic when remote working gained traction, says a report launched in Nairobi on Wednesday.

Hacker attacking internet/Getty Images

According to the state of cybersecurity report in Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe, compiled by Liquid Intelligent Technologies, threats to digital infrastructure in the three countries’ private sector increased amid loopholes created by the rapid uptake of remote work during the pandemic.

The 2021 cyber security report for Kenya, South Africa and Zimbabwe revealed that the threat of hacking, data breaches and ransomware increased as companies intensified automation to boost efficiency.

It says that 96 percent of South African businesses have leveraged cloud services to sustain operations in the pandemic era while 79 percent of them said they experienced a spike in cyber threats. In addition, 90 percent of companies surveyed in South Africa said they had prioritized strengthening their cyber defenses to help avert attacks that could be a drain on finances besides worsening reputational damage.

While 95 percent of Kenyan businesses had adopted cloud services, 78 percent reported an increase in threats to their cyberspace while 70 percent had prioritized installing firewalls to ward off attacks, according ot the report.

The situation in Zimbabwe, according to the report, mirrored the one in Kenya and South Africa where chief information officers and network administrators said that the risk of cyber attacks had intensified during the pandemic.

Lorreta Songola, Regional Chief Business Officer of Liquid Intelligent Technologies, Southern Africa, said that the increased use of emerging technologies like cloud services was accompanied by risk of sophisticated attacks like email phishing, malware, identity theft and data intrusion.

Songola said that enhanced security of companies’ cyberspace was a prerequisite to sustain confidence with their clients besides averting costly litigation arising from data theft.