Kathy Gibson is with Kaspersky Lab in Cape Town – South Africa ranks an alarming second in the world when it comes to Android-based mobile banking malware, with only Russia experiencing more attacks.

This is one of the findings from Kaspersky Lab research for the first quarter of 2019 which found that malware attacks in the region have grown 8%, with mobile malware up 17,5%.

More than 90% of all cyber threats are still traditional cybercrime, but targeted threats to organisations are growing – now at 9,9% – with cyber weapons now making up 0,1% of threats.

Sergey Novikov, deputy director: Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab, points out that these threats are the most dangerous and sophisticated.

Back in 1994, the world faced one new virus every hour. By 2016, this had grown to one per minute and by 2011 it was one per second. Today, there are about 360 000 new malware samples per day, or three per second.

Kaspersky analysed almost 2-billion malicious online attacks in 2018, says Amin Hasbini, head of Global Research and Analysis Team at Kaspersky Lab. There are currently 21,64-million different malicious artefacts blocked during the year.

A massive 92,1% of attacks originated in just 10 countries, Novikov adds.

The latest Kaspersky research shows that attacks are becoming more of an issue for companies. “A lot of these attacks are caused by employees,” says Hasbini. This is via inappropriate use and sharing of company resources and systems.

In South Africa, Web threats make up 21,5% of attacks, while local threats make up 43,6%. “If these threats are not stopped, they will result in damage,” Hasbini says.

Cryptomining is a relatively new trend, but it has grown rapidly – 46% in the first quarter of 2019 over the same period in 2018, with an average of 35 147 attacks per day.

CoinHive – one of the major providers of cryptocurrency services – was behind many of the cryptomining attacks last year. That organisation was shut down at the end of 2018, but Hasbini warns that new players will undoubtedly come to light soon.

Ransomware is still alive and well, although it has decreased 18% year on year. However, 2 154 ransomware attacks per day have been measured.

“Attackers are now less inclined to attack individual users with ransomware, because it is hard to collect the money,” says Hasbini. “However, they are still likely to use it for organisations.”

Phishing remains a major threat, and has increased a massive 70% year on year in the first quarter of 2019. In South Africa, phishing was up 22% during the period.

Financial services remain a popular target for attackers, with digital doppelgangers emerging as a new technique for bypassing anti-fraud mechanisms.

The underground online marketplace Genesis, for example, is selling tens of thousands of stolen digital IDs.

“Digital transformation in financial services and payments makes accurate online authentication critical – but it remains vulnerable,” Hasbini says.

“If we use technology everywhere, we need to protect it everywhere,” he adds. “This encompasses physical equipment, data and telecoms.”

Among the new threats that organisations need to guard against are those relating to the cloud.

There will be a big increase in the risks of hybrid cloud adoption, says Hasbini

In addition, as small and medium businesses move to managed security services, there is a new risk emerging. “The service providers now hold the data for many small businesses – and if they get infected, everyone gets infected.”

Supply chain attacks are a trend and Kaspersky Lab expects more attacks in this area. “Supply chain is the weakest link at the moment,” Novikov says.

Cryptocurrency is a massive emerging threat. Providers hold data worth billions of dollars and are increasingly being targeted. Stealing cryptocurrency leaves no trace, so recovery is almost impossible.

For this reason, the cryptocurrency industry is expected to demand better security, according to Novikov.

Enterprise reputation risk is a big issue, and managing this in the event of a breach is becoming more important

Another area that is expected to face bigger threats in 2019 is privacy, Novikov says.