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The Evolving Threat Landscape: Top Cybercrime Trends Organisations Should Take Note of in 2023

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By Emmanuel Asika

The cyber threat landscape continued to evolve last year, with malevolent players joining forces more than ever before, exchanging access to networks and systems, sharing malware and sharpening their attack methods.

Such heightened collaboration, coupled with the low cost of malware – three-quarters of malware kits cost less than ₦7,000 – are further triggering cybercrime to be more accessible.

The implication being that more devices and end-users will be vulnerable to being under attack in 2023, and as cyber criminals intensify attempts to access enterprises – these systems, PCs and printers will be at the forefront.

These challenges, for cyber-security experts, will be intensified by the growing economic slump and uncertainties. As cybersecurity spending is set to increase by 13.2% in 2023, cost projections will be under critical observation, with emphasis on the most important cybersecurity demands.

With tough impending decisions, below are four cybersecurity trends that institutions must plan for in 2023:

  1. Increasing costs can prompt an inflow of cyber hustlers and money mules, powering the cybercrime economy and leaving users at risk

The increase in the cybercrime gig economy, with its swing to platform-based business models, has made cybercrime simpler, affordable, and more dynamic.

Cybercrime devices and mentoring services are readily available at low costs, luring cyber hustlers – adherents with little technical skill – to access needed information to make gains.

With an impending global downturn, easy access to cybercrime tools and skills could enhance the number of scam SMS messages and emails filling our inboxes.

Lured by the potential of quick money, there is a likelihood of seeing more recruits into money-muling schemes, unintentionally encouraging the cybercrime ecosystem as enablers of fraudulent transactions, money laundering, and perhaps ransoms payments.

The interrelated nature of the cybercrime gig economy means that threat actors can easily make money from email compromise attacks.

If they find a victim and succeed by compromising an enterprise device, they can market that access to bigger ransomware gangs. This gives structured groups of hackers more reach, hence feeding into the cybercrime ecosystem.

With increasing attacks against users, embedding security in all devices from the hardware will be significant to prevent, detect and recover from attacks.

Adopting a robust security culture is key for building resilience, however, only when combined with technology that decreases an organization’s attack interface. A whole group of threats can be eradicated without relying on detection by isolating risky activities like malicious emails.

Threat containment technologies in this case ensure that if a user opens a malicious link or attachment, the malware can’t infect any data. With this model, businesses reduce the propensity of malicious attacks and protect employee interests without compromising their workflows.

  1. Notorious hackers will invest in more attacks below the operating system.

Until recently, firmware attacks were only used by sophisticated threat groups and countries.

However, just last year, early signs revealed an increased interest and development of attacks below the operating system – from tools to hack BIOS passwords, to rootkits and trojans targeting device’s firmware. Today, we now see firmware rootkits advertised relatively cheaply on cybercrime marketplaces.

As one would expect, sophisticated threat actors are always looking to stay one step ahead in terms of their attack capabilities. Unfortunately, firmware security is frequently disregarded by organizations, giving room for adversaries to attack and exploit.

Access to the firmware level allows attackers to gain persistent control and hide below the operating system, making them very hard to detect – let alone remove and remediate.

As such, organizations and individuals must ensure they understand industry best practices and standards for device hardware and firmware security.

Additionally, organizations must further endeavour to understand and evaluate the latest technology readily available to protect, detect and recover from firmware attacks.

  1. Remote access equipment will be on the forefront for attacks

Session hijacking is anticipated. The year will witness a growth in popularity – where an attacker hijacks a remote access session to obtain an organisation’s sensitive data and systems.

The user is characteristically unsuspecting that anything malicious has happened and takes milliseconds to inject key sequences and issue commands that generate an alternative gateway for persistent access.

It works even if Privileged Access Management (PAM) systems employ Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA), such as smart cards.

When a malicious attack links to Operational Technology (OT) and Industrial Control Systems (ICS) running factories and industrial plants, there could also be a noticeable impact on operational readiness and safety – possibly cutting off access to energy or communication for entire areas.

The only way of preventing these kinds of attacks is breaking the attack chain and strong isolation technology, either through using a physically separate system, like a Privileged Access Workstation (PAW), or virtual separation, via hypervisor-based approaches.

  1. Neglect print security at your risk in 2023

Presently, print security is endangered by the constant tendency to be a neglected factor of the total cybersecurity environment and with more printers connected to corporate networks due to hybrid working, the risks keep increasing. Institutions need to structure security policies and processes for monitoring and protecting print gadgets from attacks, at home and in the workplace.

The challenge is the risk telemetry coming from end points, including printers, is growing by the day. Consequently, we will see institutions concentrate investments on solutions and services delivery that provide functional intelligence rather than merely delivering more security data.

Tackling increasing threats

This year, organisations must be intentional with their security approaches. Often, security glitches start at the endpoint, hence, by embedding protection in these devices, businesses can lessen the burden on their security unit.

Regardless of the threats institutions face in 2023, it is apparent that the tactics we deploy to protect devices and data has to change.

The key consideration here is strategic resource allocation, and the security teams need to recognise the specific areas of the business that are most susceptible to threats, and that would be most impacted in the event of a breach.

It is also vital to have a layered approach to security which will allow institutions to execute isolation, gain actionable intelligence, isolation and more, whilst helping to lessen their attack surface and maintain safety of key data.

Emmanuel Asika is Country Head for Nigeria, at HP

 

 


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E-Business

Expert Urges FG to Harmonise NIN, BVN to Tackle Crimes

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Noble Ajuonu, head, Sydani Technologies Ltd., has urged the Federal Government to harmonise National Identification Number (NIN) and Bank Verification Number (BVN) to tackle crimes and insecurity in the country.

Expert Urges FG to Harmonise NIN, BVN to Tackle Crimes

Ajuonu made the call at a media roundtable, organised by Sydani Group in Abuja.

The News Agency of Nigeria (NAN) reports that the roundtable focuses on driving sustainability through a comprehensive analysis of Nigeria’s key development areas.

Ajuonu said that Nigeria could overcome its security challenges and pave the way for a safer, more secure future for all Nigerians by embracing technology and implementing practical solutions,

“We need to harmonise data, prioritise seamless integration of databases like NIN, BVN, and security agency records, establish clear protocols for data sharing and access, with robust safeguards against misuse,’’ expert said.

According to him, the unified data pool will empower intelligence gathering and targeted operations.

He also called for investments in smart surveillance, intelligent video analytics software, training of personnel in data analysis, interpretation of data in real-time to combat crimes.

“There is need to implement a legal framework for call interception in criminal investigations, with strict oversight to prevent abuse, encourage community cohesion, training of tech savvy security personnel with tech-enabled tools.’’

Ajuonu also urged the government to address infrastructure deficit in technology, saying that technology was all encompassing to address insecurity.

“According to the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), as of December 2023, only 104.2 million Nigerians had been enrolled for the National Identity Number (NIN).’’

Ajuonu added that over 122.2 million citizens left uncaptured for NIN were people in rural areas where enrolment centres, digital services were limited.

“Most crimes are being perpetuated from rural communities and this lack of comprehensive identification creates a gap where elements not captured in the national database can constitute public nuisance, crimes.

“There is the inadequacy in the integration of NIN, BVN and Voters Identification Number (VIN).

“Advanced call interception and analysis tools, used successfully in other countries, could provide invaluable insights into criminal networks and operations but infrastructure is lacking,’’ he said.

Also, Mr Godfrey Petgrave, the Agricultural Expert, Sydani Group, called for empowerment of smallholder farmers with access to finance and training to enhance productivity.

According to Petgrave, Nigeria requires policy reform and institutional strengthening to improve agricultural practices and embrace digital agriculture solutions to address food insecurity.

Mr Akolade Jimoh, another expert of the group on health, advocated for expanded community-based health insurance programmes for rural and underserved areas.

Jimoh added that the country needed to encourage Public Private Partnership to revolutionise products design and quality improvement on health services.


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E-Business

Konga launches Infinix Brand Week with Incredible Deals

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Konga, Nigeria’s leading composite e-commerce group, is thrilled to announce the launch of amazing deals at its Infinix Brand Week. Infinix, a leading global smartphone brand known for its innovative products and cutting-edge technology promises exclusive discounts and special offers on select smartphones, marking an exciting milestone in the realm of online shopping.

Shoppers can expect nothing short of extraordinary deals on a wide range of Infinix products, all available exclusively on the Konga online platform. With discounts of up to 30% off, this partnership between Konga and Infinix aims to redefine the shopping experience for tech enthusiasts across Nigeria.

Konga Brand Week has become synonymous with excitement and unbeatable deals, and this year’s edition is no exception. In addition to exclusive discounts on Infinix smartphones, shoppers can explore a diverse array of products across various categories, including electronics, fashion, home essentials, and more.

“At Konga, we are dedicated to providing our customers with the best shopping experience possible,” said Rita Ohaedoghasi, VP Marketing at Konga. “The Infinix Week during Konga Brand Week allows us to continue delivering on that promise by offering incredible discounts and special offers on some of the most sought-after smartphones in the market.”

To stay updated on the latest developments and exclusive deals during Konga Brand Week, shoppers are encouraged to connect with Konga across all platforms, including social media and the Konga website. Don’t miss out on this opportunity to score big savings and elevate your tech game with Infinix and Konga.


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Study Reveals Software Programmers to make Full Use of AI Code Assistants

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Gartner predicts that by 2028, 75 percent of enterprise software engineers will use Artificial Intelligence (AI) code assistants, up from less than 10 percent, currently.

According to a Gartner poll of 598 global respondents conducted in the third quarter of 2023, 63 percent of organisations are now testing, deploying, or have previously implemented AI code assistants.

AI code assistants provide for more capabilities than only code development and completion, notes the research firm.

According to Gartner, the use of AI code assistants can lead to higher work satisfaction and retention, resulting in lower turnover costs.

Philip Walsh, senior principal analyst at Gartner, comments: “Software engineering leaders must determine ROI and build a business case as they scale their rollouts of AI code assistants.

“However, traditional ROI frameworks steer engineering leaders toward metrics centred on cost reduction. This narrow perspective fails to capture the full value of AI code assistants.”

Gartner notes that software engineering leaders must “reframe the ROI conversation from cost reduction to value generations”.

Walsh adds: “Calculating time savings on code generation is a good place to begin building a more robust value story. To convey the full enterprise value story for AI code assistants, software engineering leaders should connect value enablers to impacts, and then analyse the overall return to the organisation.”

 


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