Popular Mechanics (South Africa)



Every country has to deal with cyberthrea­ts and attacks. Kaspersky’s research has shown that malware across Africa topped 28 million in August 2020, and this was driven mostly by lockdown conditions and the pandemic. We chatted to Lehan van den Heever, enterprise cybersecur­ity advisor for Kaspersky in Africa, to find out what’s happening.

Popular Mechanics: Should we be afraid of hackers?

Lehan van den Heever: The short answer is yes. Regardless of your company size, geographic location, or industry sector, you will be targeted. But this also extends beyond the corporate world. Even individual users are susceptibl­e to hackers and having their personal informatio­n, systems, and banking compromise­d.

PM: What are cybercrimi­nals after?

LVDH: Cybercrimi­nals hunt for data of all kinds – personal details, photos, videos, and even ways that users interact with others. This data is often stolen from social networks. In turn, stolen data is then posted elsewhere online to be sold to other criminals looking to make a profit.

PM: Has technology made this better or worse?

LVDH: Hackers use more innovative technology to try and compromise business and personal accounts. For example, it’s already possible to put on the face of another person during a video call. With the correct approach, it can look so realistic that you would hardly be able to distinguis­h between the forgery and a real person. As far back as 2011, there was an app that could overlay a face from a photo on to a moving face in a video, dynamicall­y, in real time. Have you ever dreamt of Angelina Jolie’s lips or Brad Pitt’s face? No need for Photoshop here, just a creepy app. Thanks to artificial intelligen­ce (AI), this has become better by magnitudes. Videos, photos, and other pieces of content can be created by piecing together widely available data on social networks.

PM: How safe is online gaming?

L VDH: According to research, 179 million gamers globally have had their IDs stolen. And in South Africa, Kaspersky has found that almost 10 per cent of gamers have experience­d this. Gamers, just like corporate employees, can be targets for threat actors that can bully them online, compromise their machines, steal their informatio­n, and even hack other accounts.

PM: What’s the best way to game safely?

LVDH: Players should only buy titles from official sources to avoid installing malware. Even using a dedicated card for your gaming purchases that can be topped up as required means that if you do get compromise­d, the amount of money that can be potentiall­y stolen would be kept to a minimum. Of course, setting up two-factor authentica­tion for the account is essential to mitigate the risk of password compromise­s.

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