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News

Broadband availability and world sporting event cause malware spike in South Africa

Symantec : 05 January, 2010  (Technical Article)
Symantec has reported on the threat risk in South Africa with a large increase in malicious software attacks in the country due to the world cup combined with greater accessibility to broadband internet access
South Africa is in the eye of a "perfect storm", caused by hosting a major global sporting event and the introduction of new broadband internet capacity. Global IT security leader Symantec says that malicious activity on the Internet increases dramatically when either one of these two events takes place. South Africa is in the unenviable position of experiencing both in 2010, with the soccer World Cup and a twofold increase in broadband availability.

"Over the years Symantec has seen a surge in malicious activity in countries introducing faster, cheaper, and more accessible broadband," said Gordon Love, regional director for Africa at Symantec. "Our research has also shown that events such as the Olympic Games and the Soccer World Cup trigger online fraud, fake websites, phishing and spam attacks, and hacking."

South Africa has been undergoing widespread broadband infrastructure upgrades, including links to two new undersea fiber-optic cables, in preparation for the 2010 FIFA World Cup.

In 2008 Egypt shot straight to the number one slot in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) for malicious activity per broadband subscriber after Internet connectivity became a priority for the Egyptian government, and the number of subscribers on broadband increased significantly. The country was not even ranked for malicious activity in 2007.

Russia had the most "bot" command and control servers driving spam in EMEA in 2008, with 20 percent of the total, and was ranked third in the world. According to the Symantec Internet Security Threat Report (ISTR), one of the factors influencing the concomitant acceleration in spam activity was increased broadband connectivity.

South Africa has already begun to experience an increase in spam and other cybercriminal activities, including government website defacements, and Britain's Scotland Yard recently uncovered 100 criminal scams related to the World Cup.

Symantec's Global Security Response team is currently installing additional network sensors in South Africa to ramp up the monitoring of threat activity on the Internet. Symantec will launch a website in January 2010 to provide information on Internet threat activity related to the World Cup. The information will be drawn from the company's Global Intelligence Network, which monitors Internet traffic via 240,000 sensors in four million computers spread across 200 countries.
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