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Ransomware Persisted Despite Improved Detection in 2022 – IBM Report

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IBM Security released its annualX-Force Threat Intelligence Index finding that although ransomware’s share of incidents in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) held steady at 18%, globally defenders were more successful detecting and preventing ransomware.

Despite this, attackers continued to innovate, with the report showing that globally the average time to complete a ransomware attack dropped from two months down to less than 4 days. 

According to the 2023 report, the deployment of backdoors, which allow remote access to systems, emerged as the top action by attackers in the MEA region last year. Backdoor deployments were  detected in 27% of the cases X-Force responded to in this region in 2022. Ransomware and worms tied for the second-most common attack type in the region at 18% each. The uptick in backdoor deployments can be partially attributed to their high market value. X-Force observed threat actors selling existing backdoor access for as much as $10,000, compare this to stolen credit card data, which sells for less than $10 per card today.

As organizations across the MEA region try to address the ever-evolving cyber threats landscape, Frida Kleimert Knibbs, Security Leader at IBM MEA, stressed the critical role of threat intelligence in safeguarding against these threats. She commented: “Proactively managing security risks and evolving cybercrime tactics is a critical priority for organizations across MEA. The X-Force Threat Intelligence Index findings demonstrate the continued threat of ransomware and the increasing use of thread hijacking tactics.”

She added: “To safeguard against these threats, it’s imperative that companies remain vigilant and focus on effective incident response planning. As the security landscape evolves, it is crucial to prioritize threat intelligence and strengthen defenses”.

The IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index tracks new and existing trends and attack patterns – pulling from billions of datapoints from network and endpoint devices, incident response engagements and other sources.

Some of the key findings in the 2023 report include:

  • Extortion: Threat Actors Go-to Method. The most common impact from cyberattacks in 2022 was extortion, which was primarily achieved through ransomware or business email compromise attacks. Extortion and financial loss each accounted for half of identified impacts in incidents across the MEA region in 2021. Manufacturing was the most extorted industry globally in 2022, and it was again the most attacked industry for the second consecutive year. Manufacturing organizations are an attractive target for extortion, given the extremely low tolerance for down time.
  • Cybercriminals Weaponize Email Conversations. Thread hijacking saw a significant rise in 2022, with attackers using compromised email accounts to reply within ongoing conversations posing as the original participant. X-Force observed the rate of monthly attempts increase by 100% globally compared to 2021 data. Over the year, X-Force found that attackers used this tactic to deliver Emotet, Qakbot, and IcedID, malicious software that often results in ransomware infections.
  • Legacy Exploits Still Doing the Job. The proportion of known exploits relative to vulnerabilities declined 10 percentage points globally from 2018 to 2022, due to the fact that the number of vulnerabilities hit another all-time high. The findings indicate that legacy exploits enabled older malware infections such as WannaCry and Conficker to continue to exist and spread.
  • Phishers “Give Up” on Credit Card Data. The number of cybercriminals targeting credit card information in phishing kits dropped 52% globally in one year, indicating that attackers are prioritizing personally identifiable information such as names, emails, and home addresses, which can be sold for a higher price on the dark web or used to conduct further operations.
  • Finance and Insurance Remain Prime Targets for Cyberattacks in MEA: In the Middle East and Africa, Finance and insurance was the most-targeted industry in 2022, accounting for 44% of incidents and down slightly from 2021 at 48%. Professional, business and consumer services accounted for 22% of attacks, with manufacturing and energy tying for third place at 11%.

The report features data IBM collected globally in 2022 to deliver insightful information about the global threat landscape and inform the security community about the threats most relevant to their organizations. You can download a copy of the 2023 IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Report here.

 Additional sources

  • Read more about the report’s top findings in this IBM Security Intelligence blog.
  • Sign up for the 2023 IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index webinar on Thursday, March 2, 2022, at 11:00 a.m. ET here
  • Schedule a consult with IBM Security X-Force

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Ugo Onwuaso is an ICT enthusiast. He believes technology should be used for general good. He holds a Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree from the Lagos state University. Dear Reader, Your support matters. But we believe that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. That is why, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and finance and how they affect lives. Our incisive and analytical view of how technology news affects the daily life help individuals and organizations make up their minds. Quality journalism costs money. Today, we're asking that you support us to do more. Kindly support our effort to deliver technology and finance journalism to everyone in the world. Donate as little as N1,000. Bank transfers can be made to: UBA Plc 1017156876 Communication Week Media Ltd

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NCC Temporarily Suspends Issuance of New Licenses

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Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) says it has temporarily suspended the issuance of new licenses in some categories.

NCC Temporarily Suspends Issuance of New Licenses

The commission said the categories included interconnect exchange license, mobile virtual network operator license and value added service aggregator license.

Reuben Mouka, director of Public Affairs, NCC,  in a statement in Abuja on Friday, said the commission acted in line with its powers under the Nigerian Communications Act (NCA) 2003.

“This temporary suspension is necessary to enable the commission to conduct a thorough review of several key areas within these categories, including the current level of competition, market saturation and current market dynamics.

“The public is invited to note that during the suspension period commencing on May 17, new application for the aforementioned licenses will not be accepted.

“This is without prejudice to pending applications before the commission will be considered on their merits.

“Any enquiry or clarification in respect of this suspension notice should be forwarded to: [email protected],” NCC said.

 

 

 

 


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Cable Cuts Expose Vulnerabilities in Africa’s Internet Infrastructure

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The vulnerability of East Africa’s countries was starkly revealed once again in the aftermath of the damage inflicted upon an undersea cable, leading to widespread internet outages across the region.

Cable Cuts Expose Vulnerabilities in Africa's Internet Infrastructure

According to Business Day Africa, this incident marks the third cable cut this year, plunging millions of users in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania, and Rwanda into a state of connectivity limbo.

The disruption caused by the severance of two vital submarine cables- the East Africa Submarine System (EASSy) and Seacom, resulted in significant delays in internet access, so much so that operations at the US embassy in Dar es Salaam had to be suspended.

EASSy spans a staggering 10,000 kilometres along the eastern coast of Africa, boasting nine landing stations strategically positioned in Sudan, Djibouti, Somalia, Kenya, Tanzania, Comoros, Madagascar, Mozambique, and South Africa.

Tanzania bore the brunt of the outage, experiencing the most severe disruptions, as evidenced by data from the Internet Outage Tracker, compelling the embassy to halt its services for a period of two days.

This latest incident follows a series of challenges earlier this year when connectivity in East Africa was hampered by damage sustained by three submarine cables traversing the Red Sea.

Internet users in East Africa have been grappling with intermittent connections since Sunday, May 12, 2024.

The International Cable Protection Committee attributes the damage to a probable encounter with the anchor of a cargo ship, allegedly targeted by the Yemen-based Houthi rebel group.

However, repair efforts have been impeded by ongoing tensions surrounding access rights to the affected waters.

Commenting on the situation, Bright Simons, research lead at the IMANI Center for Policy and Education in Ghana, lamented the lack of a comprehensive regional framework for telecom emergencies in East Africa, according to SemaFor news.

He noted that despite the region’s advanced regional integration initiatives, similar to those seen in the Southern African Customs Union and Francophone units, the absence of such mechanisms has left operators scrambling to establish ad hoc cross-border arrangements.


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Nigeria’s Omoniyi Ibietan, elected Secretary-General of APRA

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Omoniyi Ibietan, Head Media Relations at the Nigerian Communications Commission, fellow of the Nigerian Institute of Public Relations (NIPR) and African Public Relations Association (APRA), has just been elected the Secretary-General of APRA at the ongoing 35th Annual Conference and Annual General Meeting taking place in Abidjan, Côte d’Ivoire.

Ibietan has promised to work with other members of the Executive Council to continue the trajectory of reforms in APRA, expand the democratic space by encouraging greater participation of national public relations institutions on the Continent and work more closely with the African Union Commission and Council of Ministers to put public relations at the heart of policy, programmes, and project implementation. Ibietan was elected into a three-man Executive Council. The other two members are Arik Karani (Kenya), President, and Dr. Michele Mekeme (Cameroon), Vice President.

OMONIYI P. IBIETAN is a journalist, writer, and author. As Head of Media Relations Management at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), where he oversees aspects of the public communication strategy of the national regulatory authority for telecommunication in Nigeria. Earlier in Nigeria’s Fourth Republic, he was Special Media Advisor to the Federal Minister of Information and Communication.

He has over 20 years of experience in media and communication scholarship and practice, spanning journalism, academia, policy discourse, communication strategy, regulation, and stakeholder relations.

He earned BA and MA in Communication Arts and Communication & Language Arts from the Universities of Uyo and Ibadan in Nigeria, respectively, graduating atop his classes. Earlier, he obtained a diploma in journalism with distinction from the Moscow-Based International Institute of Journalism.

He holds a Ph.D. in Communication from the North-West University in South Africa, with specialisation in political communication. He is a IP3 certified regulation specialist and holds a mini MBA in telecommunications from NEOTELIS in Paris.

He is also a member of the African Council for Communication Education (ACCE), an Associate Registered Practitioner of Advertising (arpa) and member of the International Institute of Communications (IIC), the world’s only policy debating platform for the converged communications industry.

As a scholar, he focuses on patterns of political communication through new media; media and culture studies; and theoretical & normative foundations of communication in relation to democracy and freedom. He is on the faculty of the Nigerian campus of Italy-based Rome Business School (RBS), where he teaches doctoral students PR & Advertising and Media Management & Communication Strategy. He also facilitates learning to students in the Master of Corporate Communication programme at RBS.

His first book, SOCIAL MEDIA, SOCIAL DEMOGRAPHY, AND VOTING BEHAVIOUR IN NIGERIA, was published by Premium Times Books in Washington in May 2023.

He has travelled extensively in Africa, North America, Europe, and Asia.

He is married, has children, plays tennis and scrabble, loves reading and writing, and loves meeting people, especially people from other cultures.

At the ongoing conference, Ibietan presented the first paper at the commencement of business sessions. The title of his paper is DIGITAL INCLUSION AS ARBITER OF ACCESSIBLE PUBLIC RELATIONS: A CASE OF NIGERIAN COMMUNICATIONS COMMISSION.

Using Castells’ Theory of the Network Society and the Knowledge Gap Theory and based on the actions of the Nigerian government through the activities of the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ibietan advanced a thesis that digital inclusion is the arbiter of digital public relations.

Through implementation of laws, policies, guidelines, developmental regulation, collaborative partnerships, social investments, operational efficiency and ancillary actions that are consequential and quantifiable, and using copious pictorial evidence, Omoniyi discoursed a perspective that NCC’s digital inclusion programmes, projects and activities are foundational to digital economy because investment in and coordination of expansion of digital infrastructure, demonstrating their affordances and enhancing people’s access to such resources, constitute the building blocks and raison d’être of digital economy and inherently digital public relations.

APRA, the successor to the Federation of African Public Relations Association (FAPRA), instituted in Nairobi in 1975, exists to foster unity of Africans and their global allies through interactions and exchange of meaning. Pivoted on standardisation of public relations practice and scholarship on the Continent to enhance its relevance to the African reality, APRA member states and individuals meet annually at a location in any of its regional centres (East, North, South, West, Central, Indian Ocean Islands, and Francophone) to have a conversation with a thematic focus on any of its key intervention areas (Health & Education, Economic Integration, Good Governance, Tourusm & Leisure, and Infrastructure Development). This year’s theme is ‘ONE AFRICA, ONE VOICE: BRIDGING AFRICA’S COMMUNICATION DIVIDE’.

APRA Côte d’Ivoire 2024 is endorsed by the Government of Côte d’Ivoire, the Holding Opinion & Public (THOP), and major global PR associations, namely the International Public Relations Association (IPRA), The International Communications

Consultancy Organisation (ICCO), the Global Alliance for Public Relations and Communication Management (GA), the African Union Commission (AUC), and PR national associations across the continent.

Additionally, the conference featured the eighth edition of the Innovation Summit (IN2SUMMIT) and includes the seventh edition of the SABRE Awards Africa, holding tonight.

The APRA secretariat is in Nigeria, and the body maintains an observer status with the African Union.


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