SA bank reveals 400% surge in cyberattacks

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cyber security
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Absa, one of South Africa’s largest banks, has experienced a staggering 400% increase in cyberattacks over the past two years. Manoj Puri, Absa’s Chief Information Security Officer, recently disclosed that millions of attacks are now targeting the bank every month. This revelation highlights a growing and alarming trend: cybercriminals are increasingly focusing on financial institutions.

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The growing threat of cyberattacks

Cybercrime has evolved into a massive global industry. Today’s cybercriminals are not just lone hackers but include well-funded syndicates, state-sponsored groups, and advanced hacktivists. Anthony Watson, Executive Risk Consultant at ESCROWSURE, describes this shift, noting that cybercrime has become “Big Business” worldwide.

Third-party risks complicate cybersecurity and cyberattacks

Watson says that financial institutions are facing a dual challenge. As they expand their digital operations, they also increase their exposure to cyber threats. “This isn’t limited to their own systems but extends to their third-party suppliers and even those suppliers’ partners. The digital ecosystem has become vast and interconnected, making it a prime target for cyberattacks,” he explained.

How cybercriminals operate

Cybercriminals often use ransomware and supply chain attacks to hold data and software hostage. These attacks can disrupt business operations by locking out legitimate users. Ryan Boyes, Governance, Risk, and Compliance Officer of the Galix Group, explains that threats like Man-in-the-Middle Attacks, Backdoor attacks, Source Code Leaks, and Code Injection are becoming more prevalent. The goal is simple: to make money by causing chaos.

Financial impact and recovery

The impact of these cyberattacks is severe. According to a report by Sophos, the average cost for South African organisations to recover from ransomware attacks (excluding ransom payments) exceeds $1 million. Additionally, 26% of these organisations take between one and six months to fully recover. The financial and operational toll is immense, underscoring the need for better cybersecurity measures.

Strategies for Better Cybersecurity

To combat these threats, financial institutions need to adopt robust cybersecurity practices. Here are some key strategies:

  1. Inventory Mapping: Understand how data flows within the organization and identify dependencies.
  2. Third-Party Risk Assessments: Ensure that third-party interactions follow industry best practices.
  3. Compliance Standards: Adhere to standards such as ISO 27001 and frameworks like CIS and NIST.
  4. Vulnerability Management: Implement automated scanning and timely patch management.
  5. Regular Assessments: Continuously assess and mitigate vulnerabilities to stay ahead of threats

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