Kaspersky Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) experts offer insights and projections for 2024 in the Kaspersky Security Bulletin, with a focus on the evolution of Advanced Persistent Threats (APT).
Kaspersky researchers predict APT actors will introduce new exploits on mobile, wearables, and smart devices and use them to form botnets, refine supply chain attack methods, and utilise AI for more effective spear-phishing. These advancements are anticipated to intensify politically motivated attacks and cybercrime.
AI-powered impersonation, the rise of creative exploits for mobile, and new botnets
Emerging AI tools will streamline spear-phishing message production, even enabling the mimicry of specific individuals. Attackers may devise creative automation methods by gathering online data and feeding it to LLMs to craft letters in the style of a person connected to the victim.
“Operation Triangulation” marks a groundbreaking year for mobile exploits, potentially inspiring more research into APTs attacking mobile, wearables, and smart devices. We will likely witness threat actors broadening their surveillance efforts, targeting various consumer devices through vulnerabilities and “silent” exploit delivery methods, including zero-click attacks through messengers, one-click attacks via SMS or messaging apps, and network traffic interception. Protection of personal and corporate devices has become increasingly vital.
The exploitation of vulnerabilities in commonly used software and appliances is yet another point where we should be vigilant. The discovery of high and critical severity vulnerabilities sometimes receives limited research and delayed fixes, potentially paving the way for new, large-scale, and stealthy botnets capable of targeted attacks.
Growth in cyberattacks by state-sponsored actors and hacktivism as a new normal
State-sponsored cyberattack numbers also have the potential to surge in the year ahead, amid increasing geopolitical tensions. These attacks will likely threaten data theft or encryption, IT infrastructure destruction, long-term espionage, and cyber-sabotage.
Another notable trend is hacktivism, which has become more common as part of geopolitical conflicts. Geopolitical tensions indicate a likely increase in hacktivist activity, both destructive and aimed at spreading false information, leading to unnecessary investigations and subsequent alert fatigue of SOC analysts and cybersecurity researchers.
Other advanced threat predictions for 2024 include:
- Supply chain attacks as a service: operators’ bulk-buying access
Supply chain attacks targeting smaller firms to breach major ones: the Okta breaches in 2022-2023 highlight the threat’s scale. Motives of such attacks may range from financial gain to espionage. 2024 might witness new developments in dark web access market activities related to supply chains, enabling more efficient and large-scale attacks.
- Emergence of more groups offering hack-for-hire services
Hack-for-hire groups are on the rise, providing data theft services to clients ranging from private investigators to business rivals. This trend is expected to grow in the coming year.
- Kernel rootkits are hot again
Despite modern security measures like Kernel Mode Code Signing, PatchGuard, HVCI (Hypervisor-Protected Code Integrity), kernel-level code execution barriers are being bypassed by APTs and cybercrime groups. Windows kernel attacks are on the rise, enabled by WHCP abuses, and the underground market for EV certificates and stolen code signing certificates is growing. Threat actors are increasingly leveraging BYOVD (Bring Your Own Vulnerable Driver) in their tactics.
- Managed File Transfer (MFT) systems used for advanced attacks
Managed File Transfer (MFT) systems face escalating cyber threats, exemplified by 2023 breaches of MOVEit and GoAnywhere. This trend is poised to escalate, with cyber adversaries eyeing financial gains and operational disruptions.
The intricate MFT architecture, integrated into broader networks, harbors security weaknesses. Organisations should implement robust cybersecurity measures, including Data Loss Prevention and encryption, and foster cybersecurity awareness to fortify MFT systems against evolving threats.
“In 2023, the notable surge in the availability of AI tools didn’t elude the attention of advanced malicious actors engaged in extensive and highly sophisticated campaigns.
“However, we anticipate that upcoming trends go beyond AI implications, including new methods for conducting supply chain attacks, the emergence of hack-for-hire services, novel exploits for consumer devices, and more.
“Our goal is to provide defenders with advanced threat intelligence that stays ahead of the latest threat developments, enhancing their capacity to fend off cyberattacks more effectively”, says Igor Kuznetsov, Director, Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) at Kaspersky.
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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