The latest figures from SEACOM, a leading pan-African ICT service provider, have revealed that distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks in Africa have increased by 300% in 2021, compared to the same period in 2019. The continent experienced a similar spike in February 2020, coinciding with global COVID-19 related lockdowns. With the unprecedented shift toward online working, cybercriminals have had access to a larger attack surface and more vulnerable home networks. Unfortunately, this surge in attacks shows no sign of slowing down.
Understanding DDoS attacks and unpacking the numbers
A DDoS attack is a type of targeted cyberattack on servers and networks that takes advantage of the specific capacity limits of network resources. The attackers will send multiple requests to a network, such as a company’s website, with the aim of overwhelming the network and saturating traffic volumes. This causes the network or services to stop functioning, making it inaccessible to normal users, as well as more vulnerable to further attacks.
According to SEACOM, Africa experienced 382,500 DDoS attacks between January and July 2021. Of these, a massive 59% took place in Kenya and South Africa. While South Africa experienced fewer attacks in 2021 than in 2020, there was still a sizeable 188% increase in attacks in 2021 compared to 2019. Kenya, alternatively, saw a staggering 2400% increase in attacks in 2021 compared to the same period 2019. It’s clear that the tech-focused nations of Kenya and South Africa are taking the brunt of the onslaught. And, what should probably come as no surprise, the information services industry has been particularly impacted. Across the continent, 78% of all DDoS attacks that took place this year were targeted at this sector. Other affected industries include professional, scientific and technical services, finance and insurance, manufacturing, as well as retail trade.
What does this mean for business?
DDoS attacks have a significant impact on businesses and can result in data breaches, financial losses due to recovery costs, downtime for critical business functions, and even loss of business reputation. As cybercriminals continue to develop and discover new attack vectors that exploit vulnerabilities exacerbated by the pandemic, it is crucial for businesses to ensure that they can adequately protect their IT infrastructure – or find managed services with the security expertise to do it for them.
Service providers and security experts are rising to the occasion to mitigate these increasing threats. SEACOM, a company that owns Africa’s most extensive ICT data infrastructure, has recently partnered with NETSCOUT, a leading provider of cybersecurity, service assurance, and business analytics. The aim of this strategic partnership is to provide businesses across Africa with complete security solutions that protect against DDoS and other types of destructive cyberattacks.
Steve Briggs, Chief Sales and Marketing Officer at SEACOM, weighed in on the situation. “While many businesses are in the process of undergoing rapid digital transformation, cyberattacks are also reaching record-breaking figures in 2021,” he said. “Fortunately, even as cyberattacks become more sophisticated year-on-year, so do the means to protect against them. Now, it is more important than ever for businesses to take a proactive, rather than reactive, approach to cybersecurity.”