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Lessons learnt from South Africa’s most recent cyber attacks

There is no doubt that cyber criminals love South Africa. We have the third highest number of cyber victims globally (report by Accenture) for the past year (which has also seen a marked increase due to the COVID-19 pandemic), but the cyber attacks are not limited to individuals. Large corporations and companies also fall victim to cyber crime.

Clive Brindley, Senior Manager within the Security Practice at Accenture in Africa says that their research has found that approximately R2.2 billion a year is lost to cyber attacks.

If you consider the large name victims and the scope of the attacks in 2020, this is well and truly something to sit up and take note of.

There have been many big name victims of late, with two local banks (Capitec and Nedbank), a credit information services agency (Experian), a telecommunications company (Telkom), a healthcare provider (Life Healthcare), the administration of a city (Johannesburg) and a construction group (Stefanutti Stocks) adding their name to the list of those falling prey to the attackers.

These attacks all have different vectors, not only targeting the organisations directly, but also third party service providers and linked subsidiaries. It would not be far fetched to assume that this will not stop anytime soon. There has, in fact, been a rise in mentions of South Africa on the Dark Web since 2016 already, which indicates that South Africa has been noticed as a pot of gold.

"We have worked at the coal face of the incident response and recovery processes of some of the largest breaches this year and it is clear that there is a gap between South African enterprises’ cybersecurity capabilities and the rapidly advancing capabilities of cyber attackers,” says Johann de Wet, General Manager at Grove. “This is a challenging environment for security leaders who have to face an increasingly more complex IT environment, thanks to Cloud, IoT and the growth in remote working brought on by COVID-19, while also having to put the mitigation measures in place to curb the threat of novel attacks"

There are four lessons we can take away from this spate of attacks. We will be covering each of these four lessons in the coming weeks.


  1. Insight into the cyber threat landscape in South Africa
  2. Forrester Report on The Emergence of Offensive AI
  3. Phishing from the inside: Microsoft 365 account hijack
  4. Darktrace Antigena: The Future of AI-Powered Autonomous Response
  5. The State of Email Security 2020


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