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With the end of ‘easy money’ there are still serious opportunities in Africa

2018 IT SECURITY PREDICTIONS – METHODS FOR ATTACKS, INVESTMENT AREAS & CYBERSECURITY STRATEGIES By Morey Haber, VP, Technology, BeyondTrust It’s that time of year again when we look back at what has motivated the market for IT security solutions in the last year, in order to develop our plans for the next year. With so many public exploits, and data breaches, there’s certainly no shortage of material to leverage! I have grouped my predictions in to three categories: Methods for major hacks, breaches and exploits; The business of cybersecurity – focus and investments; and Offensive and defensive strategies. Category: Methods for major hacks, breaches and exploits Prediction #1 – The bigger they are, the harder they fall If we think the headlines, with news of major organizations getting breached, shocked us, we will learn that large organizations have poor cyber security hygiene, are not meeting regulations, and are failing to enforce the policies they developed, recommend, and enforce on others. Next year’s news will have even more high-profile names. Prediction #2 – Increase in mobile phone spam With there being more mobile phones in most countries than there are citizens in those countries, mobile phone spam will rise 10,000% due to automated spam and dialing ‘botnets’ that essentially render most phones unusable because they receive so many phone calls from unidentified numbers. This rise in phone spam pushes cellular carriers to start to require that end users adopt an “opt in” policy so only those in their contacts can call them. Prediction #3 – Major increase in ‘gaming deleteware’ infections ‘Gaming deleteware’ infections across most major platforms will increase as botnets continuously attack gaming networks and devices such as Steam, Xbox, PlayStation, and Nintendo systems with the sole intention of rendering the machine inoperable. The malware is downloaded as an embedded game add-on, causing millions of devices to need to be replaced. Prediction #4 – The first major Apple iOS virus hits within a popular “free” game As users click on the ‘ad’ to play a game for free, their iOS11 device will be compromised, leaking all data stored in the local Safari password storage vault. Prediction #5 – Continued growth in the use of ransomware and cyber-extortion tools 2017 has proven the model that vulnerabilities nearly 20 years old are being exploited in organizational networks (Verizon DBIR 2017), so the opportunity is too great and too easy for organized crime to ignore. Further, the commoditization of these tools on the deep web opens the door to anyone who feels the risk is worth the reward. This is likely to continue until organizations get the basics right and the risk/reward balance tips, making ransomware far less appealing. Prediction #6 – More end-user targeting Penetration through unpatched servers like in the case of Equifax will happen, but hackers will continue to target end users with more sophisticated phishing and targeted malware, taking advantage of unpatched desktops where clients have far too many privileges. Again, don’t take your eyes off the end users. Prediction #7 – Biometric hacking will be front and center Attacks and research against biometric technology in Microsoft Hello, Surface Laptops, Samsung Galaxy Note, and Apple iPhone X will be the highest prize targets for researchers and hackers. The results will prove that these new technologies are just as susceptible to compromise as touch ID sensors, passcodes, and passwords. Prediction #8 – Cyber recycling As we see a rise in the adoption of the latest and greatest devices, we will see devices, and now IoT, be cyber recycled. These devices, including mobile phones, won’t be destroyed however. They will be wiped, refurbished, and resold even though they are end of life (EOL). Look for geographic attacks against these devices to rise since they are out of maintenance. Category: The business of cybersecurity – focus and investments Prediction #9 – More money for security, but the basics still won’t be covered Organizations will continue to increase spending on security and new solutions, but will struggle to keep up with basic security hygiene such as patching. Hackers will continue to penetrate environments leveraging known vulnerabilities where patches have existed for quite some time. Regardless of whether it is an employee mistake, lack of resources, or operational priorities, we are sure to see this theme highlighted in the next Verizon Breach report. Prediction #10 – IAM and privilege management going hand-in-hand Identity Access Management (IAM) and privilege management adoption as a required security layer will continue. We will see more security vendors adding identity context to their product lines. Identity context in NAC and micro-segmentation technologies will increase as organizations invest in technologies to minimize breach impact. Prediction #11 – Greater cloud security investments Vendors will begin to invest more heavily to protect cloud specific deployments for customers migrating to the cloud. Supporting Docker/containers, DevOps use cases, and enforcing secure cloud configurations are some initiatives that will be driven by customers. Prediction #12 – Acceptance that “completely safe” is unobtainable As 2018 progresses and more and more organizations accept that breaches are inevitable there will be a shift toward containing the breach rather than trying to prevent it. This doesn’t mean abandoning the wall, but rather accepting that it isn’t perfect, can never be and shifting appropriate focus toward limiting the impact of the breach. Organizations will refocus on the basics of cybersecurity best practice to enable them to build effective solutions that impede hackers without impacting legitimate users. Prediction #13 – Chaos erupts as the GDPR grace period ends As organizations enter 2018 and realize the size of the task to become GDPR compliant by 25th May, there will be a lot of panic. This legislation seems poorly understood which has led to many organizations tabling it for ‘later’ and, for many, they will wait until the first prosecution is underway before they react. The EU gave over 2 years, after GDPR passed into law (27th April 2016), for organizations to become GDPR compliant, so there is likely to be little tolerance for non-compliant organizations which are breached after 25th May and, more than likely, some example setting. Those who completed their GDPR compliance ahead of the deadline will be right to feel smug as they watch their competitors flail. Category: Offensive and defensive strategies Prediction #14 – Increased automation in cybersecurity response The size of the cybersecurity threat continues to grow through 2018, with increasing numbers of attack vectors combined with increased incidence of attacks via each vector (driven by commoditization of attack tools) leading to massive increases in the volume of data being processed by cybersecurity teams. This demands improvement in the automation of responses in cybersecurity tools to do much of the heavy lifting, thereby freeing the cyber teams to focus both on the high-risk threats identified and in planning effectively for improvements in defences. Increased use of machine learning technologies and, from that, more positive outcomes will lead to a significant growth in this area. Prediction #15 – Richer cybersecurity vision As organizations’ needs for more comprehensive cybersecurity solutions grows, so will the need for effective integration between the vendors of those technologies. This will lead to more technology partnerships in the near-term and eventually to industry-standards for integration in the longer term. The ability for systems to work with relatively unstructured data will allow for more effective information interchange and, as a result, far richer and more rewarding views across our cyber landscapes. Prediction #16 – It is now law Governments will begin passing legislation around cybersecurity and the basic management of IoT devices required for safe and secure computing.



By Bryan Turner, Partner, Spear Capital  

Ever since the 2008 financial crisis, investors in developed markets particularly have had to make decisions against the backdrop of incredibly low interest rates. In the US, for example, interest rates fell to almost zero percent in the immediate wake of the crisis and only hit one percent again in mid-2017. In 2019, they rose to just over 2.4% before falling to almost zero again in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. In Europe, things were even more extreme with many banks experimenting with negative interest rates. 

Those low interest rates, designed to blunt the impact of the crisis, made investments in some traditional investment vehicles all but worthless. Another effect of low interest rates is that they allowed investors to borrow money ‘cheaply’ and with little risk, adding further froth to the market. 

That meant an increase in investors seeking out yield in higher-risk sectors such as venture capital and private equity. And as investments in developed markets became more expensive, emerging market companies (including many in Africa) started to benefit. Weak exchange rates further ensured that developed world investors could see strong returns for comparatively little capital outlay.  

But as central banks around the world raise interest rates in a bid to curb rampant inflation, it’s clear that the age of ‘easy money’ is at an end (at least for now). Even as investors return to traditional investment vehicles, however, they would be foolhardy to ignore the opportunities present on the African continent. 


All the right ingredients 

And there are plenty of opportunities too. At the macroeconomic level, for example, several countries are making major strides. Botswana’s economy grew 12.5% in 2021, spurred not just by a recovery in the commodities sector but an expansion in non-mining output including in construction, wholesale, and retail. 

Zambia’s new leadership, meanwhile, has delivered on many of the promises that brought it to power in 2021. Under the guidance of President Hakainde Hichilema – once ridiculed as “the calculator boy” – the country has restructured its debt with the International Monetary Foundation (IMF) and brought inflation down from 24.4% in August 2021 to 9.7% in June this year. So strong has the rebound in investor confidence been that Zambia’s currency, the Kwacha, is the best-performing global currency against the US Dollar this year. That’s no mean feat, especially when you bear the Dollar’s current strength in mind. 

But even in countries where economic growth is lower and there is less cause for political optimism, people are successfully building and growing businesses that cater to the needs of the continent’s young, growing, and increasingly well-connected population.  

For example, the explosion in the continent’s technology startup sector is well-trodden ground, but even here there is still substantial room for growth. The record levels of investment it saw in 2021, for instance, are still only a fraction of what US startups raised in the same year. Imagine what African startups could do with similar levels of funding. 

It’s also important to remember that technology startups only represent a small fraction of the business investment opportunities in Africa. There are companies doing incredible things in sectors including consumer goods, food processing, transport and logistics, and many others. Many of them are also helping the communities they operate in and making the planet a better place at the same time. Their growth will be critical to the future of the continent. With the right investment, these companies can also help ensure the continent gets full value out of its rich natural resources, rather than simply exporting them in raw form. 


Taking a long-term, partner-driven approach 


It is, of course, understandable that some investors might be reluctant to pursue those opportunities. They may feel that the past couple of years have illustrated exactly how uncertain the world is at the moment. Others may feel that they simply don’t understand African markets. 

An approach focusing on the long-term can help to overcome concerns around uncertainty (and avoid investment hopping). It’s also worth remembering that there are risks even in supposedly safe investments. A recession, for example, could see a rapid decline in interest rates as quantitative easing returns. 

Worries about market knowledge, meanwhile, can be overcome relatively easily by partnering with investors who have a successful and established track record on the continent. They know the risks and can mitigate against them, ensuring that investors aren’t left exposed. 

So, even though the post-2008 period of ‘easy money’ may have come to an end (at least for now), it should be clear that there are still significant opportunities in Africa. With the right approach and the right partnerships, investors can take advantage of those opportunities and reap the rewards that come with them. 


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