Online security threats on the rise

According to the Internet Security Threat Report 2013 by Symantec Corporation, threats to online security have grown and evolved considerably in 2012. According to the 2012 Internet security Threat Profi le, Botswana is ranked 23rd out of 30 countries in Africa and 128 worldwide.
From threats of cyber espionage and industrial espionage to the widespread chronic problems of malware and phishing, there has been constant innovation from malware authors.
The report has also observed an expansion of traditional threats into new forums. In particular, social media and mobile devices have come under increasing attack in 2012, even as spam and phishing attacks via traditional routes have fallen. Online criminals are following users onto these new platforms.
In 2012, the largest growth area for targeted attacks in 2012 was businesses with fewer than 250 employees; 31percent of all attacks targeted them. “This is especially bad news because based on surveys conducted by Symantec, small businesses believe they are immune to attacks targeted at them. However, money stolen from a small business is as easier to spend than money stolen from a large business.
And while small businesses may assume that they have nothing a targeted attacker would want to steal, they forget that they retain customer information, create intellectual property, and keep money in the bank,” reads the report.



Additionally, small businesses and organizations can become pawns in more sophisticated attacks. Driven by attack toolkits, in 2012 the number of Web-based attacks increased by one third and many of these attacks originated from the compromised websites of small businesses.
Fifty percent of mobile malware created in 2012 attempted to steal information or track the individuals’ movements. According to the report, cyber-criminals are looking to profit by spying on individuals. This is because their method is to learn peoples’ banking information, the phone numbers and email addresses of friends and business associates, personal information and even steal peoples’ identities for their use.
Itumeleng Garebatshabe Chief executive Officer at Intellegere Holdings, a software developing company, told Gazette Business that internet Security is still an issue that Botswana is trying to understand generally. “A lot of Batswana still lack information about Cyber Security (Information Security) hence why they have fallen victims to a lot online scams and criminals,” said Garebatshabe.
To further improve on Botswana’s rankings, he said that more needs to be done to educate Batswana so that they understand what internet security is first of all and how it affects their daily lives. “We should remember that malware and spam developers get sophisticated by the hour so we can’t solve all the issues but through education we can lower the risk to many companies especially the small business being affected. One thing which is of paramount importance is that Botswana, just like other African countries is new to the internet boom,” he added.
Garebatshabe however cautioned that Android smartphone users are more likely to be affected by malicious applications than any mobile platform. So users need to be weary of the types of applications they install on their devices. He also advised Botswana companies to use genuine software to lessen the chances of being affected by malware and viruses.
At the time of going to print, the Gazette Business had not yet received statistics on internet security threats from the Botswana Police Service. The BPS public relations office had assured that the information will only be available by today (Tuesday) as information was still being gathered from the relevant department.
The report further cautions that social media websites already combine elements of an operating system, a communications platform, and an advertising network. As they go mobile and add payment mechanisms, they will attract even more attention from online criminals with malware, phishing, spam, and scams. Traditional spam, phishing, and malware will hold steady or decline somewhat; however, social media attacks will grow enormously. These attacks are expected in 2013 to become harder to undo, more aggressive, and more professional over time.