The latest report from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky shows that malicious attacks in the South African banking sector have been on the rise in 2020. While the frequency of attacks is one element to be concerned about, Kaspersky estimates that a third of South Africans remain vulnerable.
34 percent to be more precise, with the firm noting that outdated or unsupported versions of Microsoft are the key contributors to the high percentage.
Given the fact that the operating system has a leading market share locally of 21.15 percent in the country, it is something that South Africans need to take seriously, Kaspersky stresses.
“There is no code without bugs and no program is perfect. This is why there are security updates – they are meant to find and close potential gaps before threat actors find and exploit them. They are especially important when it comes to the OS – as the OS is the heart of devices such as laptops, smartphones, and tablets,” says Maher Yamout, senior security researcher for the Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky.
Given that outdated and unsupported OS’ is the reason behind the rise in cyberattacks, Kaspersky is advising all users to ensure their operating systems are up to date, especially as older OS’ often contain a higher degree of vulnerabilities.
“It does not matter if an organization has the best cybersecurity solutions available, if there is even one device running an outdated OS then the whole company is compromised. This is as much an educational issue as it is a practical one. People are creatures of habit and many are resistant to change especially when it comes to their OS,” Yamout points out.
“Our research shows that in South Africa, 5% of the unsupported OS market consists of people still using Windows XP. Frighteningly, it had its end of life in 2014,” the researcher stresses.
The same goes for Windows 7, which saw it’s end of life in January this year. As a result, cybercriminals are tailoring their malicious attacks to target user banking data in particular.
“In January and February this year, almost 1% of connected South Africans were the targets of malicious bankers. Putting this into context, the entire 2019 accounted for 1% of the local market targeted. Based on this, the projections for the remainder of the year could be massive,” explains Yamout.
“Both consumers and businesses must be aware of the risks associated with using outdated or unsupported software. Living in a digital environment that is seeing an increase in cyberthreats requires constant vigilance and an awareness of the need to keep software updated, to ensure the latest cybersecurity patches are in place. To do any less poses a digital risk that can have significant consequences,” the researcher concludes.
With more South Africans working remotely and using ecommerce platforms to purchase essential goods during the lockdown, it goes without saying that having an up to date and fully supported operating system is crucial.