It’s a scary web out there: online threat attacks reach highest ever levels



Hey you! Yes you, the one reading this article. You think you’re safe in your travels across the web? Think again. In fact, if new research is to be believed, being online has never been more risky.

According to the latest annual security report from internet connectivity giant Cisco, total global threat alerts increased 14% year-on-year from 2012 to 2013.

Around the world, a sample of 30 of the world’s largest Fortune 500 companies generated visitor traffic to websites that host malware, with global energy, oil, and gas sector seeing a sharp rise in malware attacks.

Cisco says that the Middle East and Africa have been particularly hard hit by the increase in online threats.

“Organisations across the Middle East and Africa must realise that it is no longer if they will be targeted by cyber-attacks, but rather when,” says Greg Griessel, Consulting Systems Engineer Security Solutions, Cisco South Africa. “Chief Information Security Officers face growing pressure to protect terabytes of data on an increasingly porous network, manage information safely especially on the cloud, and evaluate the risks of working with third-party vendors for specialised solutions – all in the wake of shrinking budgets and leaner IT teams.”

One reason for the increase in attacks, it says, is the mass proliferation of smart devices across the region from 133 million in 2013 to 598 million in 2018. Cloud computing in the region is also set to see some serious growth, going from 17 exabytes in 2012 to 157 exabytes in 2017.

While those changes are improving a lot of lives in the region, they also make online security a lot more complex. Rather than attacking individual computers and devices for instance, cybercriminals are increasingly attacking Internet infrastructure with password and credential theft, hidden-in-plain-sight infiltrations, and breaching and stealing data.

The report also suggests that Android mobile devices bear the brunt of all mobile malware, with 99% of all attacks occurring on the platform. We’ve heard that kind of reporting before though and there are suggestions that the actual threat presented by those kind of figures have been greatly exaggerated.

It does however indicate a shortage of more than 1 million security professionals across the globe in 2014, as most organisations do not have the people or systems to continuously monitor extended networks or detect infiltrations, and then apply protections, in a timely and effective manner. That is in line with the kind of reporting we’ve seen previously.

The businesses facing the biggest increase in online security threats meanwhile include pharmaceutical, chemical, electronics manufacturing, agriculture; and mining



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