Growing cyber threats to SA’s critical infrastructure

Issue 6 2023 News & Events, Information Security, Industrial (Industry)

The increasing reliance on digital infrastructure makes critical sectors like utilities more susceptible to cyber threats. This concern has been highlighted by Kaspersky's recent discovery of a new SystemBC variant that has targeted a South African nation's critical infrastructure.

This backdoor was found alongside Cobalt Strike beacons, which are reminiscent of the 2021 Darkside Colonial Pipeline incident. Furthermore, Kaspersky research shows that malware was detected and blocked on 29,1% of Industrial Control System (ICS) computers in South Africa in the first half of 2023. Looking more broadly at the continent, Africa sits in first place among other regions with the highest number of industrial systems under attack in H1 2023, where attacks were detected on 40,3% of ICS computers, with the energy sector being the top industry under attack (45,9%).

South Africa is currently in the throes of persistent and varying stages of load shedding as a result of prevailing maintenance and upgrade constraints that continue to threaten the stability of the country’s power supply in the short term. Contending with additional clear and present cybersecurity risks further compounds the pressure on this very infrastructure and those charged with keeping the lights on.

"Cybercriminal activity is constantly evolving. While there is a decline in the number of global attacks, we are witnessing a surge in Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) that are more strategically targeted, especially towards sectors like critical infrastructure," says Brandon Muller, technology expert and consultant for the MEA region at Kaspersky. "Such attacks are continuous, sophisticated, and when successful, can result in severe damage, financial loss, and extended downtime."

According to Kaspersky, threat actors are concentrating on specific targets to reap maximum benefits. The protection against these threats requires a layered approach. It begins with a focus on critical infrastructure protection; Kaspersky Industrial Cybersecurity solutions emphasise the need for strong cyber defences. Given the intricacies of cyberattacks on crucial sectors, businesses must stay updated with endpoint protection solutions, restrict VPN access where not needed, ensure backup copies are stored on dedicated servers, and consider implementing Endpoint Detection and Response-type (EDR) security solutions for both IT and OT networks. Kaspersky also recommends Managed Detection and Response (MDR) services for immediate access to top-tier security expertise.

The next evolutionary step in cybersecurity is Cyber Immunity. Kaspersky’s Secure by Design ideology underscores the need to think about security right from the design phase. By understanding specific security requirements for each project, businesses can create truly secure systems. A foundational understanding of security goals and assumptions is vital.

The utilities sector is undergoing unprecedented change. Digital transformation, decarbonisation, renewables, and regulatory challenges are shaping its future.

"South Africa's utilities sector is the lifeblood for many industries. The rapid changes, both in terms of digital transformation and the shift towards renewables, are commendable, however, cybersecurity cannot be an afterthought. The blend of innovative technology and top-tier security solutions is the key to ensuring uninterrupted services," Muller added.

Find local Kaspersky suppliers at

Share this article:
Share via emailShare via LinkedInPrint this page

Further reading:

Pentagon appointed as Milestone distributor
Elvey Security Technologies News & Events Surveillance
Milestone Systems appointed Pentagon Distribution (an Elvey Group company within the Hudaco Group of Companies) as a distributor. XProtect’s open architecture means no lock-in and the ability to customise the connected video solution that will accomplish the job.

From the editor's desk: AI and events
Technews Publishing News & Events
      Welcome to the 2024 edition of the SMART Surveillance Handbook. Reading through this issue will demonstrate that AI has undoubtedly made its mark on the surveillance industry. Like ‘traditional’ video ...

Forbatt SA to distribute and support Tiandy in South Africa
Forbatt SA News & Events
The big news in this year’s SMART Surveillance Handbook is that Forbatt SA has signed a new distribution agreement with Tiandy Technologies. This brand has had limited exposure and support in South Africa in the past, but has posted significant growth internationally.

Cybersecurity and AI
AI & Data Analytics Information Security
Cybersecurity is one of the primary reasons that detecting the commonalities and threats of what is otherwise completely unknown is possible with tools such as SIEM and endpoint protection platforms.

Introducing the SecuShot Bullseye Robotic Guard MK2
Secutel Technologies News & Events Surveillance
The SecuShot Bullseye Robotic Guard MK2 is a marvel of modern engineering. It integrates CCTV monitoring, remote-controlled PTZ capabilities, and a gas-powered marker into a single, compact unit.

Gallagher Security’s Integrate Roadshow
Gallagher News & Events
Gallagher Security recently teamed up with nine technology partners to showcase the latest integrated security capabilities at the Integrate Roadshow in Durban, bringing together about 60 attendees, including end users, channel partners, consultants, and other industry professionals.

Ransomware impersonates employees and self-spreads
News & Events
Following a recent incident, the Kaspersky Global Emergency Response team is shedding light on an attack where adversaries crafted their own variant of encryption malware equipped with self-propagation capabilities.

Level of RDP abuse unprecedented
Sophos News & Events
Cybercriminals abused Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) in 90% of attacks handled by Sophos Incident Response in 2023, Sophos’ newest Active Adversary Report finds. External remote services were the number-one way attackers’ initially breached networks.

Hexagon rebrands Qognify
News & Events
Hexagon’s Safety, Infrastructure & Geospatial division announced that Qognify has officially adopted the Hexagon corporate identity and fully integrated into the division as the physical security business unit.

Five efficiency strategies for your security installation business
Securex South Africa News & Events
A recent conversation with one Securex South Africa 2024 exhibitor, led to the event organisers being able to share some advice on helping security installers make their businesses more efficient.