Growing threats to SA’s critical infrastructure


Malware virus

JOHANNESBURG, (CAJ News) – RESEARCHERS have discovered a new variant cyber criminals are using to target South Africa’s critical infrastructure.

Dubbed SystemBC, it is unearthed amid the increasing reliance on digital infrastructure making critical sectors like utilities more susceptible to cyber threats.

This backdoor was found alongside Cobalt Strike beacons, which are reminiscent of the 2021 Darkside Colonial Pipeline incident.

Kaspersky highlighted the recent discovery.

Furthermore, Kaspersky research shows that malware was detected and blocked on 29,1 percent of Industrial Control System (ICS) computers in South Africa, in the first half of 2023.

Looking more broadly at the continent, Africa sits in first place among other regions with the highest number of industrial systems under attack in H1 2023, where attacks were detected on 40,3 percent of ICS computers, with the energy sector being the top industry under attack (45,9 percent).

South Africa is currently in the throes of persistent and varying stages of load shedding as a result of prevailing maintenance and upgrade constraints that continue to threaten the stability of the country’s power supply in the short-term.

Kaspersky noted contending with additional clear and present cyber security risks further compounds the pressure on this very infrastructure and those charged with keeping the lights on.

“Cybercriminal activity is constantly evolving,” said Brandon Muller, technology expert and consultant for the Middle East and Africa region at Kaspersky.

He said while there was a decline in the number of global attacks, they were witnessing a surge in Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that are more strategically targeted, especially towards sectors like critical infrastructure.

“Such attacks are continuous, sophisticated, and when successful, can result in severe damage, financial loss, and extended downtime,” Muller said.

The utilities sector is undergoing unprecedented change and digital transformation, decarbonisation, renewables and regulatory challenges are shaping its future.

Muller noted South Africa’s utilities sector is the lifeblood for many industries and the rapid changes, both in terms of digital transformation and the shift towards renewables, are commendable.

“However, cyber security cannot be an afterthought. The blend of innovative technology and top-tier security solutions is the key to ensuring uninterrupted services,” Muller added.

– CAJ News


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