OneSecure readily acknowledges that Africa is a vast area incorporating many distinct cyber security environments.
Is the Cyber Security threat in Africa any different to elsewhere in the world?
Let’s start by focusing on connectivity and Internet access across Africa. Why? African cyber threats and the associated risks are dictated in a large part by the often unique nature of the African cyber landscape. Factors like Internet penetration rates and the adoption of disruptive technologies, such as Bitcoin, by African users, dictate the forms that cyber threats take within Africa, far more than similar factors would influence the threat within more developed regions, such as North America.
Increasing integration of Information Communication Technology (ICT) in Africa increases the risks posed by cyber threats. Increased Internet penetration heralds greater prosperity and inclusion, but also the potential for increased exploitation.
While the three main threat actor categories (criminals, activists and nation-states) are all activethroughout Africa, the threat from cyber espionage is possibly the most acute. Given the emergent high tech character of many economies in Africa, and the existing, well-developed ‘traditional’ industries in Africa, such as extractives, the potential volume of valuable intellectual property accessible via cyber espionage operations is vast.
The majority of the African population is not connected to the Internet, with an increasing disparity between African countries with the highest levels of connection and those with lower levels.
Regionally-based technology solutions are rapidly emerging across Africa due, in part, to the relative abundance of interest in technology, and the need for novel solutions across the Continent.
Internet access is the trailblazer for all other high tech technologies across Africa, as such Internet penetration can be viewed as a bellwether for other technology adoption trends.
Mobile technology using the Android operating system is almost certainly the future of internet access across Africa.
With the completion of a number of undersea telecommunication cable projects between 2009 and 2012, more parts of the African Continent have become connected to the Internet. This increased integration of Africa into the information superhighway had a number of notable benefits to the region as a whole, with the deployment of many proven technologies that were deployed at a fraction of their original development costs. This has led to rapid development of the ICT market across the Continent as whole.
Although much of the ICT technology deployed across Africa had been initially developed in territories such as the United States and the Peoples Republic of China (PRC), the adoption and implementation of this technology was uniquely African. Social, economic, and technological factors have shaped the African ICT landscape, with tangible examples of this uniqueness including the very early deployment and adoption of mobile banking services, and the juxtaposition of groups of African users having access to E-Currency accounts, but not conventional banking services.
Due to the unique nature of the deployment of ICT within Africa and the fact that cyber threat actors tailor their approach to exploiting the unique attack surface of the victim landscape, it is important to benchmark the key features of the African ICT landscape.