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Technology

Cyber-attacks down 75pc on improved security

HACKER AT WORK
The cyber attack and security landscape is constantly evolving. FILE PHOTO | NMG 

Deeper investment in cyber-security is gradually paying off in Kenya, with the number of attacks involving remote hijacking of computers dipping by 75 percent in the three months to December

The number of DDoS/Botnet attacks — or remote hijacking of computers — dropped to 573,421 over the period from over 2.35 million in the previous quarter, according to statistics by the Communications Authority of Kenya.

The National Kenya Computer Incident Response Team Co-ordination Centre (National KE-CIRT/CC) detected 25.2-million cyber threat events as compared to the 26.6 detected in the period between April and June 2019.

“This was a 5.2 percent decrease attributed to a huge reduction in DDoS/Botnet attacks as a result of proactive action taken, as demonstrated by increased number of cyber threat advisories issued during the quarter," the regulator said in its report for quarter one.

Web application attacks have, however, been rising with the most recent quarter having over four million threats detected up from 3.08 million. This represented a 31.9 percent increase.

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The increased cybercrime activity has been echoed by cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which had more than 150,000 of its Kenyan users attacked by malware mainly disguised as the names of artists and songs nominated for a Grammy 2020 award.

The firm detected a 39 percent rise in attacks (attempts to download or run malicious files) under the guise of nominees’ work in 2019, compared to 2018. Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Post Malone were attackers’ favourites, with these nominees’ names used most often in 2019 as a disguise for malware. 1,598 users fell prey to malware disguised as musician Billie Eilish in a sophisticated cyberattack. Kaspersky said that cybercriminals were abusing the artistes and their songs to spread malware.

"While the number of users attacked by malware disguised as Billie Eilish songs in Kenya accounted for only 114 in 2018, 2019 saw this number increase to 1,598. Overall, Kenya saw 94 of such malicious files distributed in 2019, with 150,465 attacks," said Kaspersky.

In light of the biggest music awards of the year, to show the extent of the problem, Kaspersky researchers analysed Grammy 2020 nominated artistes' names and song titles for malware. As a result, Kaspersky found 30,982 malicious files that used the names of artistes or their tracks in order to spread malware, with 41,096 Kaspersky product users having encountered them.

An analysis of the nominated artistes showed that the names of Ariana Grande, Taylor Swift and Post Malone were used most to disguise malicious files, with over half (55 percent) of detected malicious files named after them.

"Cybercriminals understand what is popular and always strive to capitalise on that. Music, alongside TV shows, is one of the most popular types of entertainment and, as a result, an attractive means to spread malware, which criminals readily use," said Anton Ivanov, Kaspersky's security analyst.

"However, as we see more and more users subscribe to streaming platforms, which do not require file download in order to listen to music, we expect that malicious activity related to this type of content will decrease."

Last year, Kaspersky ranked Kenya in the top 10 countries with the highest number of users attacked by mobile malware.

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