By Yusuph Kileo
In recent years, of African countries are working hard to adopt 2030 African digital transformation agenda. Finance, education, agriculture, government, security, and manufacturing, are actively adopting digital technologies and transitioning their operations to online platforms.
As we advance in technology throughout the continent, nations need to remember, cybersecurity and personal data protection are fundamental principles in the implementation of the digital transformation project in order to minimise the challenges that come along with the technology.
The year 2023 was filled with countless cyberattacks across many countries — Some of these attacks targeted critical infrastructure, financial institutions, governments and other companies.
As African countries are now pushing for digital transformation and experiencing rapid economic development, cybersecurity remains a pressing concern for businesses across Africa.
Unfortunately, some of the African countries indicate inadequate security measures to fight off cybercrime, leaving them highly susceptible to cyberattacks — They have weak prevention mechanisms to combat cyber threats and poor intrusion detection systems, thereby placing sensitive transactions at significant risk.
There is an increase in the volume and sophistication of cyberattacks in financial institutions.
According to the 2023 Africa Financial Industry Barometer, 97% of surveyed leaders of financial institutions in Africa rank cybercrime and regulatory constraints on cybersecurity as the leading threat to the financial services industry alongside worsening economic conditions.
These massive cyberattacks in the region threatens the security of the growing economy and critical infrastructure.
MTN Nigeria, lost $53 million from its mobile money service which forces them to sue several banks in the Nigeria, financial institutions and e-citizen portal where halted by distributed denial of service attack in Kenya, South Africa there is an increase in backdoor and spyware attacks with an alarming 106,000 recorded attempts.
There are many similar cybersecurity incidents in other African countries and there is a need of urgent action to strengthen protection measures.
Failure to counter cyberthreats can have serious consequences for individuals, businesses and the socio-economic development of the continent.
Africa is not alone in this, In September alone other part of the world experience massive cyberattacks — To mention few notable cyberattacks; On September 6, the travel booking company Sabre experienced a serious ransomware attack where by 1.3 terabytes of data were stolen by Dunghill and just few days letter, on September 11th another ransomware attack on save the children lead to the loss of 6.8 terabyte of data and entertainment company MGM Resorts also suffered a cyberattack which was made public on X saying that the security incident severely impacted its business operations.
The following day on September 12, Hong Kong-based cryptocurrency exchange platform, CoinEx, saw the loss of US$70 million in cryptocurrency following a cyberattack launched against it.
In 2023, the most common cyberthreats in Africa includes Insider threats, Social Engineering, Software update supply chain attacks, Phishing attacks, Mobile malware, online shopping fraud, Ransomware, Man-in-the-middle (MitM) attack, Cryptojacking attacks, IoT botnet DDoS attacks and Malware attacks among others.
According to the year 2023 Positive technology report, the most targeted organizations with cyberattacks were those in the financial sector (18%), followed by telecommunications companies (13%), government agencies (12%), and organizations from the trade (12%) and industrial (10%) sectors.
The impact brought by these growing cyberattacks includes, Loss of customer/business, Loss of organisation critical data, Threat to organisation/National Security, Damage of goodwill and Reputation, Loss of Revenue — Economic Losses, Temporary or permanent closure, Lawsuits and arbitrations, Danger of terrorism, Time wastage and System down time — reduce productivity.
2024 cyberthreats prediction
Many report shows Africa being the most targeted region with cyberattacks, the year 2024 new techniques of cyberattacks will likely emerge, such as the increase in AI usage, hacktivism and targeting of smart home tech.
New botnets and rootkits will also likely appear, and hacker-for-hire services might increase, as will supply chain attacks, which might be provided as a service on cybercriminals’ underground forums.
According to Kaspersky, Advanced Persistent Threats (APT) is expected to expand surveillance efforts to include more smart home technology devices, such as smart home cameras and connected car systems.
This is particularly interesting for attackers because those devices are often uncontrolled, not updated or patched and subject to misconfigurations. This is also a concern because more people work from home nowadays, and their companies could be targeted via weak points in the home worker devices.
More hacktivism is expected affect many parts of Africa. Hacktivists will run Distributed Denial of Service attacks, increasingly use tools for Deepfakes and impersonation/disinformation. In addition, destructive and disruptive operations can be done. T
he use of wipers in several current political conflicts or the disruption of power in Ukraine are good examples of both types of operations.
Cybercriminals are also expected to develop new methods for automating cyberespionage. One method could be to automate the collection of information related to victims in every aspect of their online presence: social media, websites and more, as long as it relates to the victims’ identity.
State-sponsored cyberattack numbers also have the potential to surge, amid increasing geopolitical tensions. These attacks will likely threaten data theft or encryption, IT infrastructure destruction, long-term espionage, and cyber-sabotage.
The generative AI tools usage will increase, this will facilitate the mass production of spear phishing email content, which is often used as the initial vector of infection when targeting organizations. The messages written by the tools are more persuasive and well-written compared to the ones written by cybercriminals. It might also mimic the writing style of specific individuals.
The widespread use of technology, combined with insufficient cybersecurity measures, lack of right skillset, inadequate legislation in the field of information security, and a low level of public awareness concerning information security, creates favorable conditions for cybercriminals. Moreover, many African countries are facing economic constraints, making it difficult to allocate sufficient funds for cybersecurity.
African governments must develop, implement and regularly update national cybersecurity policies and strategies, involving a wide range of stakeholders in the process.
Establishing a dedicated national institution (Cybersecurity authority) to coordinate cybersecurity activities, respond to cyber incident, monitor threats and help organizations recover from major cyberattacks should be a top priority for governments.
Governments should work on creating and implementing legislation for the protection of personal data. This legislation should combat cybercrime, guarantee the protection of personal data, and maintain the digital security of citizens and organizations.
Regular cybersecurity awareness should be conducted. People should be educated on potential privacy risks when working in virtual environments.
Governments should identify critical information infrastructure, disruption of which could cause non-tolerable events at the level of industries and countries.
Collaboration between governments and industry peers is also recommended to enhance collective defense against cyberattacks and exchange best practices and thoughts.
Organisations should implement best practices in safeguarding personal and corporate data.
Organizations should have an up to date incident response plan that will help in case of cyberattack. The plan should contain steps to take, as well as a list of people and services to reach in case of emergency. This plan should be regularly tested by conducting attack simulations.
Network segmentation might limit an attacker’s exploration of compromised networks. Critical systems in particular should be totally isolated from the rest of the corporate network.
Establishing continuous vulnerability assessment and triage as a basement for effective vulnerability management process
Implementing strict access controls is highly recommended. The principle of least privilege should always be in use for any resource. Multifactor authentication should be deployed wherever possible.
Mr Yusuph Kileo is an award-winning Cyber security and Digital Forensics Expert
ALX Welcomes 30,000 New AiCE Learners Across Africa
ALX Africa, the innovative tech career accelerator, is thrilled to announce the enrollment of 30,000 new learners across Africa into its Artificial Intelligence Career Essentials (AiCE) programme.
This significant milestone underscores ALX’s commitment to fostering a new generation of leaders across Africa, equipped with innovative skills in AI technology.
In his welcome address, the host, Gavin Peter, VP, of Community and Culture at ALX, emphasized the essence of the event, termed “Karibu” which means ‘Welcome’ in Swahili, saying, “It is our usual ritual to start our ALX courses. We want our learners to feel welcome and part of the family.
“ALX is a community where we all belong and meet each other. We want to upskill young Africans and prepare them to launch so that they can grow their careers and make an impact.”
The AiCE programme offered by ALX introduces participants to Artificial Intelligence (AI) tools essential to their professional practice. For six weeks, learners will be equipped with knowledge of the rapid advancement of AI and its increasing relevance across various industries.
Through this course, ALX takes on the responsibility of equipping African talents with the necessary expertise to harness the potential available with Artificial Intelligence.
Out of the 30,000 learners onboarded across Africa from Nigeria, Ethiopia, Ghana, Egypt, Morocco, South Africa, Rwanda and Kenya, over 5,000 came from Nigeria. This significant feat is a testament to the dedication and resilience shown by ALX Nigeria.
Also, a strong and vibrant community, impactful engagements, and evidential testimonials of personal and professional growth are only a few of the many identifiers of this success.
Commenting on this significant achievement, Ruby Igwe, the ALX Country General Manager, Ruby Igwe, expressed her enthusiasm, stating, “We are immensely proud to welcome 30,000 new learners to our AI programme. This milestone reflects our dedication to providing accessible, world-class education that empowers individuals to shape the future of Africa.
“Through our AI Career Essentials programme, we aim to cultivate a diverse community of innovators who will drive technological advancement and economic growth across the continent.”
She further stated, “ALX is not just a learning platform; it’s a community where learners come together to grow, inspire, and support one another. As we extend our heartfelt “Karibu” to our new learners, we are excited to witness the impact they will make as they harness the power of Artificial Intelligence to drive innovation and change across Africa.”
“Karibu to all our new AiCE learners! As they embark on this exciting adventure together, the possibilities are just limitless,” remarked Igwe.
ALX remains dedicated to expanding access to transformative education and empowering African talents to lead in the Fourth Industrial Revolution. As the continent continues to embrace technological innovation, ALX stands as a beacon of hope, guiding learners toward a future filled with endless possibilities.
12 African Startups Draw Full House as Techstars Hosts Demo Day in Lagos
Techstars, the most active startup investor in Africa, held its second pan-African Demo Day in partnership with Lagos-based innovation program, ARM Labs.
The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator Demo Day was held on 20th February at Balmoral Convention Center, Federal Palace Hotel, Lagos.
The event featured presentations from Techstars’ stellar second cohort from across the continent, marking the end of an immersive three-month accelerator program.
The startups presented to Techstars’ vast network of investors, mentors, senior operators, and ecosystem leaders, unveiling achievements and future plans whilst vying for strategic partnerships and commercial collaboration.
In addition to the startups’ presentations, the event featured a lively panel discussion with key figures in the African tech and Venture Capital ecosystems, exploring the state of VC funding and innovation in Africa.
Panellists included Olumide Soyombo, Partner at Voltron Capital; Biola Alabi, Partner at Acasia Ventures; and Ovo Emorhokpor, Founding Partner at Beta.Ventures. The event also drew the attention of more than 480 industry leaders and investors, including Idris Bello, Founding Partner at LoftyInc Capital; Tosin Faniro-Dada, Partner at Breega; Eloho Omame, Partner at TLCom Capital, Victor Sada, Head of Ventures & M&A at Interswitch; Bode Abifarin, Ex-Chief Operating Officer at Flutterwave; and Olusegun Adeniyi, Chief Digital Officer at Wema Bank, who were in attendance. An additional 2,500 viewers joined online via Youtube and Linkedin.
The ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator second cohort, chosen from over a thousand applicants across Africa included 24Seven, Beauty Hut, Eight Medical, GetEquity, JumpnPass, One Plan, PBR Life Sciences, PressOne Africa, Rana, Surge Africa, Swoove and Veend.
Over the past 13 weeks, along with the $120,000 each in investment, the startups received comprehensive training and mentorship from leading industry experts in the form of workshops on Go-to-markets Strategies, Financial Modelling, Customer Acquisition, Investment Readiness, People and Leadership, Legal and Governance, and Product Management.
Additionally the select startups gained access to more than 300 perks, valued at over $4 million in savings, and will benefit from lifetime access to the Techstars worldwide network.
In her Demo Day welcome address, Oyin Solebo, Managing Director of ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator, stated, “At Techstars, we are committed to empowering entrepreneurs through our accelerators, venture funds, and network of investors, corporates, and mentors across various cities.
“We firmly believe that entrepreneurs are the driving force behind a better future for all, and our mandate is to ensure they succeed. As the world’s most active pre-seed investor, we are also proud to have become the most active startup investor in Africa.
“Teaming up with ARM, we’ve developed a program aimed at showcasing the remarkable innovation and talent on the continent. We’re excited about the 12 companies we’ve backed, each leveraging technology, data, and intelligence to serve a population growing in size, youth, income and digital access”.
The engaging event schedule also featured a keynote address by Adetayo Bamiduro, Co-founder of Max.ng, the first African startup selected for a Techstars program.
Adetayo emphasised the profound impact Techstars has had on his startup since selection in 2015, and also shared meaningful insights on the startup’s learnings, milestones and the growth opportunity that Africa offers.
Kenise Hill, U.S. Consulate Deputy Political and Economic Chief, also gave an address, highlighting the U.S’s commitment to trade with Africa, and their areas of focus – technology, healthcare, renewable energy and food security.
In the closing address by Sadiq Mohammed, Deputy Group CEO of ARM Holding Company, disclosed, “We are delighted to have partnered in this innovative program where our aim was to expand our horizons and improve our processes, introduce a new asset class to clients, and contribute to the ecosystem growth. We’re thrilled with how these objectives are being met based on the program’s success and the inherent impact of the selected startups.
Despite the market and challenging macroeconomic climate, we maintain a positive outlook knowing fully well that the best market-creating innovations thrive best when value-chains and markets are restructured. We believe this cohort is well-positioned for success.”
Oluwadunni Fanibe, Program Manager at ARM Labs Lagos Techstars Accelerator also commented on the progress attained by the founders over the past weeks.
She stated “Throughout the program, the cohort demonstrated genuine enthusiasm, passion and dedication, qualities highly valued by investors. They’ve mastered articulating and executing their business models, also honing their pitching skills along the way. The program has boosted their capabilities, propelling them into the next stage of their entrepreneurial journey and we wish them continued success.”
As founders showcased the product-market fit of their startups, track record and growth opportunity, it highlighted the ingenuity and opportunities abound in the African market. The event now sets the stage for follow-on investment and innovation in the months ahead for the cohort.
SHELT Global Unveils Security Operations Center, Training Academy
SHELT Global Limited recently held a cocktail party at its new headquarters in Nigeria to unveil their upgraded Security Operations Center and the SHELT Training Academy.
SHELT has been operating in Nigeria across Lagos and Abuja for six years, serving the country’s leading financial, telecom, and government institutions in their cybersecurity needs.
This headquarters relocation consolidates the determination of SHELT in investing in Nigeria’s economy and in growing cybersecurity talent for the country.
The party was attended by SHELT’s clients and partners, and the guests were taken on a tour of the newly opened premises.
The new SHELT Headquarters boasts a state-of-the-art 24/7 SOC to support the needs of the company’s clients all over Nigeria and the rest of Africa.
SHELT also revealed its Training Academy where young talents and experienced cybersecurity professionals looking to enhance their cybersecurity skills can enroll and benefit from the knowledge and experience of the company’s experts.
SHELT Training Academy will be issuing certifications to students in coordination with international cybersecurity bodies and affiliations.
Mr. Youssef Abillama, Managing Partner of SHELT Global Limited, said: “Our Nigeria offices are quickly turning into the company’s flagship, and we believe the country is playing its part as a role model to the rest of Africa when it comes to cybersecurity regulations.
“Today, with the launch of this new headquarters and the opening of our Training Academy, we can give back to the community that welcomed us from the start.”
Mr. Walid Bou Abssi, Country Manager of SHELT Cyber Immune Limited, said: “I see so many opportunities ahead of us in the future with the launch of the Academy. We hear of so many people wanting to enter the field of cybersecurity and we will be working hard to support the youth and cybersecurity professionals in their careers.”
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