recommended reading

State Department Looks After the Next Cyber Threat: Africa


The federal government increasingly is concentrating diplomatic efforts on protecting Americans from hackers, but less is said about foreign allies who are equally mobile and even more vulnerable. Now, the State Department is paying attention.

In emerging economies -- which depend on inexpensive smartphones for everything from banking to crime-fighting -- network security is almost an afterthought.

Today, "due diligence" is one of State's top priorities, Thomas Dukes, senior adviser for the department’s Office of the Cyber Coordinator, said Tuesday. Foreign Service professionals will help developing nations strengthen their communications infrastructure. 

India, South Africa and other emerging nations potentially pose a cyber threat to themselves, and, to some degree, global networks that are interconnected. 

In March, Agence France-Presse reported: “Hackers have claimed the scalp of the South African Ministry of State Security’s Twitter account, underlining concerns that Africa may be the soft underbelly of global cyber security.”  During that incident, attackers merely usurped the @StateSecurityRS account to advertise a “miracle diet” and then officials were able to change the password to regain control.

But cybersecurity officials fear the next attack on an African government could be more insidious. “It wouldn’t be hard to shut down the government,” Craig Rosewarne, founder of South African-based consulting firm Wolfpack Information Risk, told AFP. “There’s very little in place, so even the most basic of attacks, in most cases, get through.” Most developing African nations have been either unwilling or unable to protect networks against the growing menaces of cybercrime and domestic hacktivism, the report said. 

State has begun bilateral engagement with Brazil, India, South Africa, and even alleged cyberspy China, on the cyber issue, Dukes said at a Georgetown University conference on international computer security risks. "Those are countries that are leaders of the developing world and countries where we think it is very important to identify the things that we agree upon and don't agree upon," he said. 

(Image via GrandeDuc/

Threatwatch Alert

Credential-stealing malware / User accounts compromised / Software vulnerability

Android Malware Infects More than 1M Phones, Adds 13,000 Devices a Day

See threatwatch report


Close [ x ] More from Nextgov

Thank you for subscribing to newsletters from
We think these reports might interest you:

  • Featured Content from RSA Conference: Dissed by NIST

    Learn more about the latest draft of the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology guidance document on authentication and lifecycle management.

  • PIV- I And Multifactor Authentication: The Best Defense for Federal Government Contractors

    This white paper explores NIST SP 800-171 and why compliance is critical to federal government contractors, especially those that work with the Department of Defense, as well as how leveraging PIV-I credentialing with multifactor authentication can be used as a defense against cyberattacks

  • Toward A More Innovative Government

    This research study aims to understand how state and local leaders regard their agency’s innovation efforts and what they are doing to overcome the challenges they face in successfully implementing these efforts.

  • From Volume to Value: UK’s NHS Digital Provides U.S. Healthcare Agencies A Roadmap For Value-Based Payment Models

    The U.S. healthcare industry is rapidly moving away from traditional fee-for-service models and towards value-based purchasing that reimburses physicians for quality of care in place of frequency of care.

  • GBC Flash Poll: Is Your Agency Safe?

    Federal leaders weigh in on the state of information security

  • Data-Centric Security vs. Database-Level Security

    Database-level encryption had its origins in the 1990s and early 2000s in response to very basic risks which largely revolved around the theft of servers, backup tapes and other physical-layer assets. As noted in Verizon’s 2014, Data Breach Investigations Report (DBIR)1, threats today are far more advanced and dangerous.


When you download a report, your information may be shared with the underwriters of that document.