South Africa could be the next country to lead the cybercrime rankings, says security company Symantec.
The Seacom undersea cable will increase South Africa’s maximum international bandwidth 50-fold, according to the World Wide Worx Internet Access in South Africa 2008 report, which could see millions of new users connecting to the Internet via unprotected devices.
South Africa’s Internet population is expected to grow as much in the next five years as it has in the 15 years since the Internet became commercially available in South Africa, says the report.
An increase in broadband speeds is directly proportional to a spike in cybercrime, according to Symantec's annual Internet Security Threat Report.
As an example, Egypt – which wasn't even ranked in 2007 – shot straight to the number one ranked country in EMEA for malicious activity per broadband subscriber in 2008. This occurred after the country's internet connectivity became a priority for the Egyptian government.
Rapidly-growing broadband penetration like that being witnessed in South Africa is dangerous because many companies are still not security-savvy enough to be able to thwart attacks successfully. Newly connected computers that are unprotected will be rapidly compromised and used to launch attacks on other computer systems across the globe.
"There will, without a doubt, be a dramatic upsurge in cybercrime once South Africa starts to experience faster broadband speeds and cheaper broadband prices. The time to start preparing for this is now,” says Gordon Love, regional director for Africa at Symantec.
"South Africa currently has a relatively small Internet population due to the historically high broadband prices, but this is all set to change. Millions of new people and new devices are going to be connecting to the Internet as prices tumble and capacity booms, few of which will be properly prepared for the barrage of trojans, viruses, worms and hacks.
"Businesses need to effectively educate new users about potential online risks and to adequately protect new computers before connecting them to the internet,” Love adds.