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HP Wolf Security Report finds Surge in Daily QR “Scan Scams” Phishing on Mobile Devices

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HP Inc. has issued its latest quarterly HP Wolf Security Threat Insights Report, showing hackers are diversifying attack methods, including a surge in QR code phishing campaigns.

By isolating threats on PCs that have evaded detection tools, HP Wolf Security has specific[i] insight into the latest techniques being used by cybercriminals in the fast-changing cybercrime landscape.

To date, HP Wolf Security customers have clicked on over 25 billion email attachments, web pages, and downloaded files with no reported breaches. Further HP Wolf Security insights will be featured at the upcoming Amplify Partner Conference, March 28-30, McCormick Place Chicago.

From February 2022, Microsoft began blocking macros in Office files by default, making it harder for attackers to run malicious code. Data collected by the HP Threat Research team shows that from Q2 2022, attackers have been diversifying their techniques to find new ways to breach devices and steal data. Based on data from millions of endpoints running HP Wolf Security[ii], the research found:

– The rise of QR scan scams: Since October 2022, HP has seen almost daily QR code “scan scam” campaigns. These scams trick users into scanning QR codes from their PCs using their mobile devices – potentially to take advantage of weaker phishing protection and detection on such devices. QR codes direct users to malicious websites asking for credit and debit card details. Examples in Q4 included phishing campaigns masquerading as parcel delivery companies seeking payment.

– HP noted a 38% rise[iii] in malicious PDF attachments: Recent attacks use embedded images that link to encrypted malicious ZIP files, bypassing web gateway scanners. The PDF instructions contain a password that the user is tricked into entering to unpack a ZIP file, deploying QakBot or IcedID malware to gain unauthorized access to systems, which are used as beachheads to deploy ransomware.

– 42% of malware was delivered inside archive files like ZIP, RAR, and IMG: The popularity of archives has risen 20% since Q1 2022, as threat actors switch to scripts to run their payloads. This is compared to 38% of malware delivered through Office files such as Microsoft Word, Excel, and PowerPoint.

“We have seen malware distributors like Emotet try to work around Office’s stricter macro policy with complex social engineering tactics, which we believe are proving less effective. But when one door closes another opens – as shown by the rise in scan scams, malvertising, archives, and PDF malware,” explains Alex Holland, Senior Malware Analyst, HP Wolf Security threat research team, HP Inc.

“Users should look out for emails and websites that ask to scan QR codes and give up sensitive data, and PDF files linking to password-protected archives.”

In Q4, HP also found 24 popular software projects imitated in malvertising campaigns used to infect PCs with eight malware families – compared to just two similar campaigns in the previous year.

The attacks rely on users clicking on search engine advertisements, which lead to malicious websites that look almost identical to the real websites.

“While techniques evolve, threat actors still rely on social engineering to target users at the endpoint,” comments Dr. Ian Pratt, Global Head of Security for Personal Systems, HP Inc.

“Organizations should deploy strong isolation to contain the most common attack vectors like email, web browsing and downloads. Combine this with credential protection solutions that warn or prevent users from entering sensitive details onto suspicious sites to greatly reduce the attack surface and improve an organization’s security posture.”

HP Wolf Security runs risky tasks like opening email attachments, downloading files and clicking links in isolated, micro-virtual machines (micro-VMs) to protect users, capturing detailed traces of attempted infections.

HP’s application isolation technology mitigates threats that might slip past other security tools and provides unique insights into novel intrusion techniques and threat actor behavior.


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Court Dismisses Base Stations Lawsuit Against ATC, MTN

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ATC Nigeria, a subsidiary of American Tower Corporation, and MTN Nigeria scored a major victory in court last week over constructing or operating base transceiver stations “within close proximity” to stations owned by IHS Towers Nigeria.

The lawsuit against the two had been filed by non-profit organisation, Human and Environmental Development Agenda (HEDA) Resource Centre, in November 2023.

Additionally, HEDA also filed a contempt of court case against ATC Nigeria’s CEO, Errol Ambler-Smith, seeking his arrest, which HEDA later withdrew.

ATC Nigeria announced that on Friday, June 21, 2024, the court struck out HEDA’s suit against ATC Nigeria and MTN Nigeria on the grounds that it was speculative and failed to disclose any reasonable cause of action.

American Tower said it has “always been and remains committed to upholding” the highest standards of legal compliance and operational integrity in all its activities.

“We are pleased that the court recognised the speculative nature of HEDA’s lawsuit, and we are hopeful that this outcome will send a message to other similar potential speculative lawsuits. We appreciate the support and understanding of all our stakeholders as we continue to invest in, and provide critical infrastructure for, Nigeria’s telecommunications industry,” ATC Nigeria said in a statement.


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Airtel Boosts Sickle Cell Awareness with CrimsonBow Initiative Collaboration

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In commemoration of this year’s World Sickle Cell Day, Airtel Nigeria partnered with the CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative to host a well-attended sickle cell awareness and clinic over the weekend, at Dansol Primary School, Ikeja, Lagos.

The event which aimed at improving sickle cell education and supporting individuals living with sickle cell disease, featured free counselling for sickle cell patients, free medical testing, drug dispensing, and sensitization sessions to educate the public about the sickle cell disease.

Through the partnership, much-needed support and resources were provided to affected individuals while promoting early detection and proper management of the condition.

Commenting on the involvement of Airtel in the program, Chief Commercial Officer, Airtel Nigeria, Femi Oshinlaja, emphasized Airtel’s dedication to good health as part of the telecommunication company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) goals.

“We are proud to partner with CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative in this important endeavour, as it reflects our commitment to corporate social responsibility and improving community health outcomes. The goal of this partnership is to provide crucial support to individuals living with sickle cell disease and to help raise awareness about the condition.

“Through this partnership, we strongly hope to make a positive impact on the lives of those affected,” he said.

Speaking at the event, Founder and Chief Executive Officer, CrimsonBow Sickle Cell Initiative, Timi Edwin, expressed gratitude to Airtel. In her remarks, “This partnership with Airtel Nigeria allows us to extend our reach and provide essential services to more individuals living with sickle cell disease. We appreciate Airtel Nigeria for their support in making this event possible.”

Airtel Nigeria has continued to reinforce its position as an organization committed to the well-being of the society through various corporate social responsibility initiatives.

Asides initiative partnerships like this to combat the challenges faced by individuals living with sickle cell disease, they continue to make strides under several CSR initiatives, contributing to the overall effort to enhance the general wellness of Nigerians.

 


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Tinubu appoints Tunji Bello as CEO of FCCPC

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President Bola Tinubu has appointed Olatunji Bello as the new Chief Executive Officer/Executive Vice-Chairman of the Federal Competition and Consumer Protection Commission

The Special Adviser to the President on Media and Publicity, Ajuri Ngelale, who disclosed this in a statement on Monday, noted that the appointment is pending confirmation by the Senate.

He said that the President expects that the new Chief Executive Officer of this important agency will ensure the holistic realization of the Commission’s mandate of protecting and promoting the interest and welfare of Nigerian consumers and ensuring the adoption of measures to guarantee the safety and quality of goods and services.

Bello, who is a lawyer, administrator, and renowned journalist, is the former secretary to the Lagos State Government and holds a Master’s degree in International Law and Diplomacy from the University of Lagos.

“He studied Law at the same university and was called to the Nigerian Bar in 2002,” the statement read.

“Bello began his career in journalism at the Concord Newspapers in 1985 and held the positions of Group Political Editor; Sunday Concord Editor, and Editor, National Concord.

“He is a winner of the US Alfred Friendly Press Fellowship and was appointed the Chairman, Editorial Board of THISDAY Newspapers in 2001.

“He also served as Commissioner for Environment under various administrations in Lagos State.


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