South Africa now has the third-highest number of cyberc…

Online crooks are increasingly targeting South Africa, which now has the third-highest number of cybercrime victims in the world. This costs about R2.2-billion annually.

In the first quarter of this year, South Africa was also the worst affected on the continent in terms of targeted ransomware attacks, which can affect critical infrastructure.

This is according to Interpol’s African Cyberthreat Assessment Report released in October.

It comes as the Department of Justice and Constitutional Development recovers from a debilitating ransomware attack that unfolded in September, affecting all its electronic systems.

Transnet and its division that operates SA’s biggest ports was also the target of a cyberattack earlier this year that affected crucial systems.

And the National School of Government appears to have paid cybercrooks a R2-million ransom, previously, while the private hospital group Life Healthcare was targeted last year in an attack that affected admissions systems and email servers.

These incidents paint a worrying picture of how vulnerable South Africa is to cybercriminals and even cyberwarfare.

A possible example of cyberwarfare, showing how far-reaching and detrimental it can be to residents, is the attempted poisoning of a water plant in Florida in the US earlier this year. It was reported a hacker increased sodium hydroxide levels in the water supply that reached a town of 15,000 people.

The attack was thwarted.

This week malicious cyberactivities also made global headlines – and this had suspected links to South Africa.

The US Department of Commerce’s Bureau of Industry and Security added four companies – two Israeli, one Russian and one in Singapore – to its Entity List; in other words, to its trade restriction list.

“NSO Group and Candiru (Israel) were added to the Entity List based on evidence that these entities developed and supplied spyware to foreign governments that used these tools to maliciously target government officials, journalists, businesspeople, activists, academics and embassy workers,” a statement said.

“Positive Technologies (Russia) and Computer Security Initiative Consultancy Pte Ltd (Singapore) were added to the Entity List…