With digital transformation a top priority on the corporate agenda as companies identify new ways to grow their business, cyber attackers and opportunist cybercriminals remain very active. And although Africa is not necessarily considered a focus area for the more sophisticated types of cybercriminal activity such as targeted attacks or advanced persistent threats (APTs), the continent is certainly not immune to these or other types of cyber risks, warn Kaspersky researchers.
When looking at the general cyberthreat landscape as it impacts consumers and businesses, Kaspersky research shows that in 2020, worldwide, approximately 10% of computers experienced at least one malware attack. Interestingly, in some African countries, including South Africa, the figure was only slightly under the global 10% average, making the African region comparable to that of North America or Europe in terms of cyberattacks. On some parts of the continent, in countries like Liberia Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco as examples, Kaspersky has seen a slightly higher rate, while other parts show a lower rate – a 5% or 6% average. For the first quarter of 2021, the figures are only slightly lower than 10%, both in relative and absolute terms.
Says David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky; “Generally speaking, and based on our research, Africa has the same hit rate as we would see for other parts of the globe when it comes to cyberattacks and activity. This only emphasises that the cyber threat landscape truly does incorporate the whole globe where no continent or country is free of this growing danger and where all consumers, businesses and industries alike need to pay attention to effective cybersecurity measures – and especially during the current pandemic and resultant turbulent times.”
No respite in an evolving cybercrime landscape
In South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, Kaspersky’s research has identified the top malware families as ransomware, financial/banking trojans, and crypto-miner malware. When comparing Q1 2021 with Q2 2021, Kaspersky saw a 24% increase in ransomware in Q2 2021 in South Africa, as well as an increase of 14% in crypto-miner malware. In Kenya and Nigeria, Kaspersky saw a large increase in financial/banking trojans in Q2 2021 when compared to the figures for Q1 2021 – a 59% increase in Kenya and a 32% increase in Nigeria.
While on a technical level, not much has changed when it comes to cyberattacks, what is different is that the pandemic presents a persistent topic in which the world has a vested interest in. So, unlike the Olympics or Valentine’s Day which are limited in terms of a timeline, the pandemic offers a wealth of opportunities for cybercriminals to use malware to attack. Everything from the daily numbers and lockdown restrictions to vaccinations, hackers are leveraging on every aspect of the current situation to compromise systems.
“While the bulk of attacks are still speculative and randomly targeting individuals and businesses, there is a shift happening with the increase of APTs and more strategically targeted based attacks. These use continuous, clandestine, and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period, with potentially destructive consequences. Because of the time and effort required to perpetrate such an attack, these are often levelled at high value targets, such as nation states and large businesses,” adds Emm.
Furthermore, another concern is that as the cyberthreat landscape evolves, the nature of malware is changing.
Continues Emm; “Take ransomware as an example. In the beginning, it was very random targeting as many people as possible hoping for a relatively small amount of money paid in ransom. During the past five years, there has been a shift with a decline in the number of ransomware families being developed as well as an overall global decline in attacks. However, attackers are now focusing on specific companies and individuals where they can get the maximum benefit. The new approach of ransomware is to expose data, negatively impacting the reputation of a company. To this effect, financial crime has become more sophisticated and organised.”
Financial institutions a top targeted industry
The financial services sector remains a top targeted industry in Africa when it comes to cybercriminal activity and such cyberthreats – not surprising when one considers the digital first approach this sector continues to take, driven by the needs and expectations of its customers.
“It is relatively easy for a hacker to target an individual and capture passcodes, one-time passwords, and install malware on their computers to get financial information. Increasingly, this is expanding to financial institutions given the sheer number of new entrants in the market emerging. For hackers, online or cyber fraud offers direct monetisation of an attack and gives them access to money as quickly as possible,” adds Emm.
Financial based malware and cyberattacks are also becoming more targeted, complicated, and difficult to prevent, and with digital transformation progressing at a rapid rate within such a sector, there is no shortage of attack surfaces for cybercriminals to exploit.
“In a world where cybercrime remains rife and is only fuelled by aspects like the pandemic, there is never a moment one should not consider the implications of a cyberattack, especially as the cyberthreat landscape evolves and become even more targeted and sophisticated than it was a mere few years ago. Cybercrime is a business. This means that consumers and companies alike must remain vigilant against an increasing attack surface. Not only does this entail a more focused cyber training approach for staff within an organisation, but also using the latest technologies that feature artificial intelligence and machine learning for accurate and proactive protection and prevention in real-time,” concludes Emm.
E-commerce Startup Sendbox Raises $1.8M to Digitise Deliveries for African SMEs
Sendbox, the Nigeria-based e-commerce fulfilment platform for merchants in Africa, has announced the completion of a $1.8 million seed round from investors, including 4DX Ventures, Enza Capital, FJLabs and Golden Palm Investments.
With participation from Flexport and YC Combinator as part of its 2021 winter cohort, Sendbox’s total investment raised has now reached $2 million following a pre-seed round from Microtraction and 4DX Ventures in 2018.
Starting with logistics and fulfilment, Sendbox is building the operating system for e-commerce in Africa. Launched in 2018, the company provides affordable access to local and international delivery options for small-scale merchants selling on e-commerce and social media platforms. Accessible to iOS and Android users, via the web application, on Whatsapp, Facebook, Instagram and other e-commerce platforms, and through developer APIs, Sendbox is providing a single location to manage both local deliveries and international shipments to the EU, UK, US and Canada.
To date, over 10,000 Nigerian SMEs have sent 200,000 products through Sendbox, saving on average 30-40 percent per item by eliminating the need to work with separate logistics providers. Through its delivery management platform, which aggregates logistics providers and enables tracking, the company also offers a solution for merchants who lack the high volumes required to attract discounted delivery fees.
The next stage of the company’s growth will see a move towards financing & payments, followed by e-commerce & marketplace integrations across West Africa and further afield. According to the company, the new funding will be used to expand the company’s operations in other countries across West Africa, bolster the development of its product range, and hire new talent.
Commenting on Sendbox’s fundraise and growth ambitions, Emotu Balogun, CEO and Co-Founder of Sendbox said, “No matter where in the world customers are, we want African SMEs to be able to reach them.” He continues, “Deliveries in Lagos, Abuja, Port Harcourt and Ibadan have made up a large proportion of business for our domestic merchants. On top of that, affordable access to the UK, EU, US, and Canada has created an opportunity to sell products to hundreds of millions of previously unreachable buyers. With this fund, we aim to support more and more SMEs and help them grow both locally and internationally, scaling alongside them as we connect African merchants with a global community of consumers.”
“African e-commerce is accelerating faster than anybody could have imagined a decade ago, and it needs smart solutions to ensure that logistics and fulfilment capacity doesn’t lag behind,” said Walter Baddoo, Co-Founder and General Partner at 4DX Ventures. “Not only were we impressed by Sendbox’s 300 percent year-on-year growth since launch, but we’re seeing the market potential balloon with over 40 million Nigerian SMEs and a projected industry value for social and e-commerce reaching $45 billion on the continent by 2025.”
Prolific mobile penetration on the continent, the rise of social media and knock-on impacts from the COVID-19 pandemic have shifted additional momentum towards e-commerce and social commerce, doubling monthly revenues for Sendbox since March 2020.
Made in Africa products are now in higher demand across local and international markets. With 200 million Instagram users and 1 million Instagram businesses in Nigeria alone, Sendbox is well-positioned to serve this growing market and multiply its merchant count over the coming months.
Interswitch Unveils Whitepaper on Blockchain Technology Plans To Drive Growth of African Businesses
Africa’s leading integrated digital payment and e-commerce company, Interswitch Group, has unveiled its whitepaper on blockchain technology titled “Blockchain Technology: The Future of Africa’s Digital Economy” to help drive the growth of African businesses.
The white paper document contains details on how businesses can leverage blockchain technology to transform their businesses and the prospects it portends for the future of Africa’s digital economy.
Blockchain technology is a digital ledger that stores transactions. Essentially, it is a digital system for recording transactions in multiple places at the same time thereby making it impossible to falsify the data stored on it.
Akeem Lawal, Managing Director, Transaction Switching and Payment Processing at Interswitch commented, “The whitepaper document was inspired by the need to demystify the ambiguity around blockchain technology for African businesses thereby driving digitization and socio-economic growth across African markets. We are passionate about empowering Africans and advancing the African payment landscape, and we are consistently identifying opportunities and exploring innovative ways to enable businesses to transform and scale.”
He revealed that the whitepaper document encapsulates the benefits of blockchain technology and how it will help strengthen businesses because of its efficiency, better security in keeping records, and safety.
He further said: “While the blockchain technology is a relatively new phenomenon in Nigeria and Africa, we are particularly excited about our partnership with Interstellar with whom we are developing a native blockchain infrastructure that is tailored to suit the African market. This initiative will deepen digital payment, lower the cost of local and cross border payment as well as champion the cause for localization of emerging technology”.
He urged everyone to read the whitepaper document because it addresses existing challenges in the Fintech sector and simplifies the use of blockchain technology in unraveling these challenges. Download the whitepaper here.
Blockchain technology is evolving globally and businesses are integrating blockchain technology into their business infrastructure.
Zoom Retains Pandemic Gains and Doubles Half-Year Revenue to Nearly $2B
Despite security concerns and reports of possibly problematic ties to Chinese authorities, Zoom Video Communications remained a major beneficiary of the changes brought by the COVID-19 pandemic. Last year, video conferencing apps saw an unprecedented surge in usage, with Zoom as one of the most popular options available. The impressive growth continued in 2021, driving the company’s revenues to all-time highs.
According to data presented by StockApps, Zoom Video Communications generated nearly $2bn in revenue in the first half of 2021, more than double compared to the same period a year ago.
Quarterly Revenue Surpassed $1 Billion for the First Time
Despite many workers returning to their offices once fully vaccinated, companies worldwide continue using a hybrid work model, which has proven effective in keeping the business going during the pandemic and became popular with workers who embraced the new freedom of working from anywhere.
This enormous shift has allowed Zoom Video Communications to hold on to its pandemic gains. The company’s financial report showed Zoom saw its revenue skyrocket throughout the fiscal year ended January 31, 2021.
After an impressive 169% YoY jump in the Q1 FY2021, revenue growth accelerated to 355%, 367% and 369% in the second, third, and fourth quarters of the year. Statistics show that in the twelve months ended January 31, Zoom’s revenue amounted to $2.65bn, up from $623 million the previous year. Moreover, the video conferencing company ended the year with a net profit of $671 million, up from just $22 million in fiscal 2020.
The impressive growth continued in the FY2022, with the company’s revenue surging to $956 million in the first quarter, showing a massive 191% increase year-over-year. In the next three months, Zoom hit a new benchmark, with its quarterly revenue rising to over $1 billion for the first time.
Revenues Rise While Market Cap Drops
Analyzed by geography, the Americas remain Zoom’s largest market, with a 67% revenue share in Q2 FY2022. Statistics show users from this region generated $681 million in revenue, up from $454 million in the same period a year ago. EMEA countries ranked second with $205 million in revenue and a 20% share. The APAC region follows, with $135 million in revenue, respectively.
However, while revenues continue rising, the company’s stock price has been hugely affected by security concerns and reports of possibly problematic ties to Chinese authorities. According to YCharts, the market cap of the video conferencing company hit $76bn last week, which is 53% less than its all-time high of $161.5bn in October 2020.
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