South Africa poised to become cybercrime hub

Coupled with the fact that South Africa is soon to be hosting the World Cup, IT security vendor Symantec says that the country could soon become a lucrative target for crime on the internet.

According to Gordon Love, African regional director with Symantec, South Africa is in the unenviable position of experiencing a twofold increase in broadband availability, as well as hosting the World Cup in 2010.

"Over the years Symantec has seen a surge in malicious activity in countries introducing faster, cheaper, and more accessible broadband", he said, adding that Symantec's research has also shown that events such as the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup trigger online fraud, fake websites, phishing and spam attacks, and hacking.

Love explained that South Africa has been undergoing widespread broadband infrastructure upgrades, including links to two new undersea fibre-optic cables, in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

Backing up its research, Symantec says that, in 2008 Egypt shot straight to the number one slot in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) in terms of malicious activity per broadband subscriber after internet connectivity became a priority for the Egyptian government.

As a result, says Symantec's Love, the number of subscribers on broadband increased significantly, despite the fact that the country was not even ranked for malicious activity in 2007.

In Russia, he said, the country had the most `bot' command and control servers driving spam in the EMEA region in 2008, with 20% of the total - and was ranked third in the world.

According to the Symantec internet security threat report, one of the factors influencing the concomitant acceleration in spam activity was increased broadband connectivity.

South Africa, says the report, has already begun to experience an increase in spam and other cybercriminal activities, including government website defacements, and the Metropolitan Police in London have recently uncovered 100 criminal scams related to the World Cup.

Because of these issues, Symantec says its global security response team is currently installing additional network sensors in South Africa to ramp up the monitoring of threat activity on the internet.

Plans call for the firm to launch a website later this month to provide information on internet threat activity related to the World Cup.

The information, says Symantec, will be drawn from the firm's global intelligence network, which monitors internet traffic via 240 000 sensors in four million computers spread across 200 countries.


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