Cyber Attacks Are Increasing In Africa. French Mobile Operator Orange Hopes To Capitalize On That

Written by Peter Pedroncelli

Cyber attacks are on the increase across Africa, and French mobile operator Orange is looking to capitalize on this trend with the launch of a security center in Morocco.

The Africa Cyber Security Conference recently took place on Ivory Coast, with experts at the conference revealing that cyber attacks in Africa have increased by 20 to 30 percent over the last year, according to News24.

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Ransomware attacks, in which hackers use a malware virus to infiltrate a computer and encrypt data, holding the computer ‘ransom’ until payment is made for a coded key to unlock the encrypted data, have doubled since this time last year.

Orange has officially launched a cyber defense operations center in the Moroccan capital, with the aim of assisting in the fight against cybercrime on the continent, according to ITWebAfrica.

The market is lucrative for Orange, as Africa’s cybersecurity investment is forecast to grow from $1.33 billion in 2017 to $2.32 billion by 2020, according to a press release.

Orange is a major mobile operator across Africa, with customers present in 19 countries on the continent, including Cameroon, Ivory Coast, Egypt, Morocco, Senegal and Mauritius.

One in 10 Africans are Orange customers, with more than 120 million people using Orange as a mobile provider in Africa and the Middle East, according to Orange.

The French company already has similar African cybersecurity centers in Egypt and Mauritius, as well as global operations centers in the U.S., Canada, India, Malaysia and Singapore.

mobile operator Orange
Cyber attacks are on the rise in Africa. Image – AP Photo – Pavel Golovkin

Interestingly, the Global Cybersecurity Index 2017, released by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU), an agency of the United Nations, revealed that Mauritius and Egypt were the two African countries most committed to and best prepared for the fight against cyber attacks, according to AllAfrica.

Morocco was listed sixth on that list, but this development may boost their ranking in the near future.

A profitable arm of the company, Orange Cyberdefense is the mobile operator’s expert cyber security unit, providing managed security, managed detection and reaction, and threat intelligence services, reports Telecompaper.

Orange aims to become the leader in cyber security within French-speaking Africa, with the new Moroccan operations center considered the central hub. The company is already the market-leader in France.

The center in Casablanca will recruit and train cyber security engineers and collaborate with French engineering schools to help introduce these trained personnel to the market, with the aim of recruiting 50 local cyber security specialists by 2020, according to a press release.

In 2017, Nigeria was ranked as the third most-affected country in the world for cyber crime, with the West African nation only surpassed by the U.S. and the U.K., according to Vanguard.

Nigeria’s unwanted third place on the cybercrimes ranking was due to the country losing an estimated $353.2 million due to cybercrime during 2015.

Mobile operator Orange to be based in Ivory Coast

While Morocco is set to be the cyber security hub for Orange in Francophone Africa, Ivory Coast has already been earmarked as the mobile operator’s general base of operations.

At the end of 2017 Orange began construction on the site that will become their new African headquarters in Ivory Coast, at a cost of around $50.4 million once completed, according to ITWebAfrica.

The headquarters are expected to be completed within the next year, with plans in place to see the building officially open in November 2019. Once completed, the building will house around 900 employees that work for the company in various municipalities across Abidjan, according to ITWeb.

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