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Africa: 2023 Cyberthreats Landscape, Next Year Predictions

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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.

Africa: 2023 Cyberthreats Landscape, Next Year Predictions

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


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E-Business

FG Unveils Roadmap for Africa’s Digital Trade Revolution Under AfCFTA

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The Federal Government on Friday unveiled a comprehensive strategy to lead Africa’s digital trade revolution within the framework of the African Continental Free Trade Agreement (AfCFTA).

The strategy is part of the Renewed Hope Agenda of President Bola Ahmed Tinubu’s administration to harness trade as a catalyst for economic growth and continental cohesion in line with AfCFTA objectives.

To this effect, Vice President Kashim Shettima said Nigeria is in a unique position to spearhead the continent’s technological transformation.

He made the observation while delivering the keynote address during a Stakeholders Summit with the theme, “Digital Trade in Africa: The Renewed Hope Strategy,” held at the Banquet Hall of the Presidential Villa, Abuja.

“We are in a vantage position because we are the continent’s largest ICT hub, and as such, we must lead the way to the future of this peculiar wave of the Industrial Revolution.

“Our collaboration must prioritize comparisons of our policy initiatives to those of developed economies and fine-tune them to sustain our place and fast-track our growth,” the Vice President stated.

Senator Shettima outlined key components of the roadmap to include implementation of AfCFTA’s Digital Trade Protocol and the development of expansive technical talent hubs.

The plan, according to him, also focuses “on enhancing digital infrastructure investments, promoting disruptive innovation and entrepreneurship, and ensuring the alignment of multiple government agencies to support digital trade initiatives.”

The VP stressed the need for strong synergy between the public and private sectors in implementing the AfCFTA’s Digital Trade Protocol, just as he assured that the federal government remains committed to investing in digital infrastructure and human capital development to drive the process.

He continued: “Our collaboration must prioritize comparisons of our policy initiatives to those of developed economies and fine-tune them to sustain our place and fast-track our growth. For a sector upon which all others rely to survive, digital technologies hold the nation together, and we cannot afford to slow down.

“Our programmes, from the Investment in Digital and Creative Enterprises (iDICE) to the ongoing intervention to train 3 million technical talents by the Ministry of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, to the Outsource to Nigeria Initiative (OTNI), are lifelines in our digital economy.

“They offer us an avenue to not only maximize our potential but also commit to the adoption of the Digital Trade Protocol within AfCFTA,” VP Shettima further explained.

Earlier in his remarks, Minister of Communications, Innovation and Digital Economy, Dr Bosun Tijjani, said the Tinubu administration is investing significantly in every aspect of the digital trade protocol, with a view to harnessing opportunities in the country and continent at large.

He explained that through innovative policies and programmes such as the 3 Million Technical Talent (3MTT) programme, data protection policy and improved investments in digital infrastructure, the administration is equipping the country’s young population for the opportunities of the present and future.

Underscoring the significance of technology in trading across the continent, Dr Tijjani said opportunities that exist within the single market area are unprecedented and could best be harnessed through effective collaboration and networking facilitated by digital technology.

In his welcome address, the Special Assistant to the President on ICT Policy, Dr. Salihu Dasuki Nakande, thanked President Tinubu and Vice President Shettima for their commitment and dedication to the Renewed Hope Agenda, which he said has laid a solid foundation for the digital transformation journey in the country.

He said their continuous support has led to the discourse on digital transformation which will equally lead to a prosperous Nigeria.

Quoting the Vice President in his address at the World Economic Forum in Davos earlier this year, Dr. Nakande said, “Looking ahead, there is a need for speed and cohesion among African countries, the idea of AfCFTA must be revived and there is no hope in keeping waiting in this world, we must act swiftly and together ensure that the AfCFTA succeeds.


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E-Business

Cybersecurity Firm Uncovers Scams Targeting Olympic Games Fans

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The first in-person Summer Olympics since the lifting of pandemic restrictions is set to begin on July 26, attracting millions of sports enthusiasts.

Kaspersky experts have noted a surge in scamming activity surrounding the event, with fraudsters targeting users’ money and data.

To understand how scammers are exploiting viewers’ interest, Kaspersky experts analysed Olympic-related phishing websites and identified the main schemes currently in use.

Fake Tickets

With the Olympic Committee warning of fake ticket offers and news of a UK swimmer’s family being scammed out of £2,500 while attempting to purchase tickets for the Paris Olympics, Kaspersky’s telemetry confirms that fraudsters are actively crafting phishing websites.

These sites offer tickets for Olympic competitions at exclusive prices or claim to have seats for sold-out events. This well-tested yet effective fraudulent scheme has resurfaced during many Olympic seasons, and Kaspersky’s experts expect such websites to proliferate during Paris 2024 events.

In this scenario, users fill out a data form and transfer both their personal information and money to scammers. As a result, they may receive invalid tickets or, more likely, nothing at all, leading to financial loss and their data being sold on Dark Web forums.

Fake Corporate Giveaways

Many organisations host giveaways for their employees, partners, and customers during major events. Recently, Kaspersky experts uncovered a fraudulent page impersonating a French bank, falsely promising a chance to win event tickets.

Employees are enticed to fill out a form with personal details, including their Internet account login credentials and passwords. This allows fraudsters to infiltrate victims’ corporate resources and potentially spread malicious content further.

Fake Merch Stores

Kaspersky experts have also discovered fraudulent online stores selling merchandise such as shirts, uniforms, accessories, and more. Needless to say, those who were enticed by these offers never received the items they ordered.

Special Cell Phone Plans

Fraudsters have set up phishing websites offering a free 48 GB data package for all networks. These sites entice users to provide personal information, such as phone numbers and payment details, under the guise of activating the data package.

Once submitted, this information is harvested for malicious purposes, leading to potential financial loss and privacy breaches.

“During major events like the Olympics, the sheer volume of offers can be overwhelming and deceptive,” says Anton Yatsenko, security expert at Kaspersky. “Scammers prey on the excitement and urgency people feel, making it crucial to approach every offer with a healthy dose of scepticism.

Remember, if something seems too good to be true, it probably is. Take the time to verify the authenticity of offers and protect your personal information. Your vigilance can be the difference between enjoying the event and falling victim to a scam.”


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E-Business

Nigeria inflation rate hits 34.19%

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Nigeria’s annual inflation rate increased for the fifth consecutive month to 34.19 per cent as Nigerians battle with high living crisis.

According to the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS), released on Monday, the June figure is 0.24 per cent higher than the 33.95 per cent recorded in May. The lowest figure in 2024 was 29.90 per cent, recorded in January.

On a year-on-year basis, the headline inflation rate was 11.40 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2023, which was 22.79 per cent.

“This shows that the headline inflation rate (year-on-year basis) increased in the month of June 2024 when compared to the same month in the preceding year (i.e. June 2023),” the NBS said.

NBS said on a month-on-month basis, the headline inflation rate in June 2024 was 2.31 per cent, which was 0.17 per cent higher than the rate recorded in May 2024 (2.14 per cent) meaning that in the month of June 2024, the rate of increase in the average price level is higher than the rate of increase in the average price level in May 2024.

According to the NBS, the food inflation rate in June 2024 rose 40.87 per cent on a year-on-year basis, which was 15.62 per cent points higher compared to the rate recorded in June 2023 (25.25 per cent).


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