At a briefing yesterday, Kaspersky succeeded to scare the #$%# out of us – make no mistake we are under cyber attack from criminals. And South Africa is not excluded from this war.
Why do viruses and malware exists ? – to make money. Simple. In the past these used to be done for pranks (remember the one that opened up your CD ROM ? or the one that flipped your screen upside down ?). These days, criminals have their own underground network that sell information & sell attacks. In order to execute these attacks criminals hire virus writers to bypass security systems and exploit people’s computer without them knowing that they have been compromised. These computers are then used as part of a network (bot net) and can be tasked with almost anything. For example: a company can pay these criminals to attack their competitor and take-down their website on the day that they launch their new offering thereby shaking people’s confidence in that company. Your computer that is part of the botnet is directed to attack that website – without you knowing.
Vasiliy Dyagilev, Managing Director, Kaspersky Lab Emerging Markets, confirms that "when you go out at night, you look around you and make sure you are safe. But when you are online you dont take the same precautions. Why is that ? The Answer is because in the real world you can see the attacker – but online you can not”
There are 1.5 viruses created every second and Kaspersky have to counter each one by scanning for 125 000 malware signatures every second. These range from low level “script kiddies” to government level coordinated attacks costing millions of dollars.
To put this in real terms 1 in 5 people in south Africa is faced with malware whilst surfing the internet. This puts South Africa in position109 in the global ranking of countries on this indicator.
The top 20 countries in terms of highest risk of malware found on computers
According to Karspersk, this is how South Africa is compared to other African countries in terms of share of malware found on computers and removable media Q3 2012
On a more shocking level, 1 in 3 USB-flashdrive in South Africa is found to be carrying something malicious !
Looking at malware spreading in South Africa, while surfing the Internet most users faced drive-by attacks from hacked websites.
On users computers in South Africa, Kaspersky detected a lot of self-replicating threats like Worm.Win32.Autorun, Virus.Win32.Sality, Worm.Win32.Mabezat. All such threats form part of a huge botnet that is used for delivering different kinds of malware on users’ computers.
Kaspersky also confirms that the old Email-worm.Win32.Brontoq.q is still on the list of detected malware. This worm is very old as it was first detected in 2006 and a simple patch can remove it. The reason it is still around is that there are still computers without any antivirus protection!
As we can see most attacks nowadays are launched using exploits that take advantage of software errors.
Apps that are most susceptible to exploits in the world are:
- Adobe Acrobat Reader
- Adobe Flash
- Android OS
Users should install updates for these programmes — or even better yet, allow automatic updates for these programmes. More effective ways to defend against exploits is to use modern Internet security solutions which have automatic exploit protection systems.
So in summary:
If you think about your computer – we no longer store anything “offline”. Our photos, music, books, emails, documents are all automatically backed up into the “cloud”. Our digital identity is just as valuable, if not more, as the wallet we have in our pocket.
Not to have any protection on our computer is just unthinkable in this connected-all-the-time-age.
This also applies for MAC people. An experiment was done by Kaspersky with a new MAC that was connected to the internet and within 15 minutes it was attacked.
The solution isn’t simple but needs to be done.
- Purchase an Internet Security system.
- Ensure all your software are set to automatically update so you get the latest patches
- Change your password often & don’t have the same one for all accounts
- Be vigilant and don’t blindly trust any website/ any link in an email/ any attachment