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The Last of Our Tech: Threat of Zombie Machines on the Rise Says Kaspersky

Kaspersky, the multinational cybersecurity and anti-virus provider, has released new data from its Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) showing which countries in the world are most affected by online threats. 

Nigeria currently ranks 50th, South Africa 82nd, and Kenya 35th in KSN’s data. All three of these countries have recently become focal points for cyber threats explained Kaspersky at the recent GITEX Africa conference, held in Morocco.

At the event, Dr Amin Hasbini, head of the global research and analysis team (GReAT) for META at Kaspersky, expanded on several cyber threat trends. He cautioned business and technology leaders about two primary forms of cyberattacks – criminal and advanced.

“Criminal attacks are mainly driven by the pursuit of financial profit. Advanced attacks, on the other hand, indicate how cyber threat actors continually adapt their tactics and tools to breach security measures. A significant portion of the attacks witnessed across Africa are shaped by the rapidly changing geopolitical landscape. However, a growing concern is that cybercriminals are learning from successful advanced attacks to refine their craft,” said Dr Hasbini.

Most common attack types

Backdoor and spyware attacks were the most common threats in South Africa (106,000 attack attempts). They were prevalent in Nigeria and Kenya too, amassing 46,000 and 143,000 respectively according to the KSN. However, the cybersecurity firm warned that despite these high figures in Kenya, organisations should be wary of exploit attacks. This form of attack was the most dominant form of attack in Kenya with 177,000 incidents blocked.

Alarmingly, Kaspersky also highlighted the emergence of zombie machines, especially in South Africa. To date, 1.6 million zombie machines were detected in the country, with a further 300,000 in Kenya.

A zombie machine is a connected device that becomes a part of a botnet. Some examples of technologies that can fall victim include:

  • Legacy, old and forgotten devices,
  • IoT devices
  • Network equipment
  • Printers
  • Cameras
  • Even coffee machines
How to deal with a target on your back

Dr Hasbini’s presentation flagged several ransomware groups setting their sights on African targets. “Threats to critical infrastructure, financial institutions, government entities, and service providers have predominated the cyber threat landscape over the past year. We have witnessed different threat actors target various businesses across industries.”

Of course, it is understandable that businesses may be concerned about these figures and growing concerns. But Kaspersky offered reassurance. It highlighted how organisations can prepare to deal with the threat. Ensuring data is analysed at every point in the cycle is crucial – not just analysing it at the endpoint. This can be achieved using extended detection and response (XDR) solutions.

Adopting a multi-layered defensive strategy is critical, and introducing XDR only provides another layer of protection to an organisation’s infrastructure, explained Kaspersky. The technology has a variety of additional benefits too. Not only does it protect every entry point from attack, but it also adds analytical and automation functions for the detection and elimination of current and potential threats.

Technology is only as effective as the person controlling it though. Therefore, another important investment organisations must make is in training their employees. They must have continuous training and real-time access to intelligence on the latest attack methods.

Dr Hasbini added: “Businesses should consider leveraging advanced technologies such as threat feeds, security information and event management systems, endpoint detection and response solutions, and tools with digital forensics and incident response features. It is vital to understand that cyber security measures are an ongoing endeavour – and that there is no universal solution to secure a corporate network or data.”


  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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