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Q&A: Cyber crime disrupts Africa’s online activity

September 12, 2011 • Security, Top Stories

AVG, a global security company launched its AVG 2012 anti-virus product during a media function held today at the Melrose Arch, in Johannesburg, South Africa.

Peter Baxter, AVG VP for International Sales (image source: file photo)

Speaking to ITNewsAfrica, Peter Baxter, AVG VP for International Sales highlighted vital global trends in PC viruses and provided tips on how first time online users can protect themselves from cyber criminals.

Why is there a global increase in PC viruses?

We have to realize that the ID thefts and viruses that are out there today are predominantly there to steal identities. If your identity will be stolen, it will be used for one or two purposes  - to impersonate you or to defraud you.  It’s a massive business.

If we go back in time and look at how viruses started, it was more about getting your 15 minutes of fame, by trying to bring down a network. Now it’s no longer about that – it’s about getting the information so that people can use that information for personal gain. We’ve seen the digital world change so dramatically over the years. It’s a very attractive business for cyber criminals at the moment.

Is Africa the most vulnerable territory?

There are some viruses that are built on a global basis – it doesn’t actually matter who you are or where you are.  What we’re seeing in trends is localized malware (malicious software/viruses)

We’re seeing an increase in Africa at the moment due to the highest growth penetration in the region.

If you consider Africa, especially South Africa, there are about 6.8 million PCs, therefore there will be about 15% virus growth as compared to other countries.

With less tech savvy people getting online for the first time, we predict a massive rise in PC viruses.

Does the illegal acquisition of software impact the prevalence of PC viruses?

There is always pirating. It’s a massive worldwide problem. It doesn’t matter if it’s anti-virus software. The danger of having a pirated software copy is not being able to get regular updates. An illegal software copy is a complete waste of money. It’s simply not worth it.

Are you winning the battle against cyber criminals?

We can never say we’re winning the battle. We’re simply keeping pace with them.

What sort of users can attract cyber criminals?

It doesn’t matter if you’re rich or poor; you’re worth something to a cyber criminal. They don’t differentiate, for example they will have a database of about 6.8 million email addresses and they will try to push their virus out there to get the victim’s personal information.

What are your personal sentiments regarding hacking groups?

Hacking will always exist. The bad guys love to be bad. They love to steal information and love to be disruptive.

Why is cloud computing security such a major concern?

Centralized storage or centralized information is undoubtedly the best way forward for people today. If it is stored in a cloud, it is a lot easier that transferring data but like anything, it has to be secured. We see so many large corporations continually being hacked and losing all the data for their customers.

It doesn’t matter if it’s the cloud or local PC product with data on it, it has to be protected. By doing it in the cloud, enables us to be more efficient in protecting people.

Bontle Moeng

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