Attack on industrial control system computers grew in Africa in the first half of 2023, Kaspersky has disclosed.
Malware was detected and blocked on 32.6 per cent of industrial computers in Nigeria, 34.5 per cent in Kenya, and 29.1 per cent in South Africa, during this period it stated.
According to the cybersecurity firm, the most significant and targeted threats detected on ICS computers in selected countries of Africa showed that the threat landscape could vary between countries and between industries due to the differences in the security maturity of different countries/industries and the current focus of threat actors.
Overall, attacks were detected on 40.3 per cent of ICS computers, making Africa the most attacked region.
The top industries under attack were energy (45.9 per cent), engineering and integration (44 per cent), and building automation (40 per cent), adding that all the attacks were blocked after detection.
It further noted that malicious objects of all types were detected and blocked on 34 per cent of industrial control system computers globally in the first six months of this year.
Explaining ICS computers, the firm said, “They are used in oil and gas, energy, automotive manufacturing, building automation infrastructures, and other spheres to perform a range of operational technology functions – from the workstations of engineers and operators to supervisory control and data acquisition servers and Human Machine Interface.
“Cyberattacks on industrial computers are considered to be extremely dangerous as they may cause material losses and production downtime for the controlled production line and even the facility as a whole. Moreover, industrial enterprises put out of service can seriously undermine a region’s social welfare, ecology, and macroeconomics.”
The firm highlighted that the different types of cyber threats that OT-related computers face include malicious scripts, spy trojans, worms, ransomware, and others.
It stated that Africa had the highest percentage of ICS computers on which spyware was blocked (9.8 per cent), followed by the Middle East and Southeast Asia with 8.3 per cent and 8.1 per cent respectively. The global average stood at 6.1 per cent.
The Head of Kaspersky ICS CERT, Evgeny Goncharov, commented, “Africa’s industrial landscape is diverse, ranging from large-scale mining operations to small-scale agriculture. This means that ICS cybersecurity solutions need to be adaptable to various sectors and technologies.
“In some regions, legacy ICS systems that lack modern security features are still in use. These systems are often more vulnerable to cyberthreats and require significant upgrades. Lastly, some critical infrastructure in Africa is located in remote areas with limited connectivity, which can make it difficult to monitor and secure ICS assets effectively.”
Goncharov further noted that by understanding their risks, organisations could make informed decisions, allocate resources wisely, and efficiently fortify their defenses.