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Cybercriminals Launch Invincible Malware on ATMs

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  • Cybercriminals Launch Invincible Malware on ATMs

Cyber criminals appear to have stepped up their games, as they have unleashed an invincible malware attacks on Automated Teller Machines (ATMs) of banks.

According to MailOnline, passwords and financial data have been stolen from more than 140 banks and other enterprises in 40 countries using the organisations’ own software within the last few months.

Experts have therefore sought increased measures against Nigeria’s vulnerability, calling for concerted efforts between the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) and the financial institutions in the country to safeguard the operations of about 17, 398 ATMs in the country. The ATMs carried out about N4.9 trillion worth of transactions in 2016.

The digital strikes targeted computers that operate ATMs, letting hackers ‘push money out of the banks from within the banks’. The malware hides itself in the computer’s memory to avoid detection, and researchers say they have no idea who is behind it.

“It is not known who is behind the attacks, Kaspersky Labs, who discovered the exploit,” said. “The use of open source exploit code, common Windows utilities and unknown domains makes it almost impossible to determine the group responsible – or even whether it is a single group or several groups sharing the same tools,” it stated.

The U.S., France, the U.K., Ecuador and Kenya are the top five nations affected by the hack, with the U.S. being the hardest hit with 21 incidents.

Other countries include Brazil, Tunisia, Egypt, Russia, Turkey, Israel, Uganda, Spain, Saudi Arabia, China, Congo, Libya, Peru, Tanzania, Kazakhstan, Ukraine and others. The hit enterprise includes the banks, government organisations and telecommunications companies.

The ATM Industry Association (ATMIA) said there are now close to three million cash machines installed worldwide. Accordingly, the code invisibly collects the passwords of system administrators so that the attackers could remotely control the victim’s systems.

“The ultimate goal appears to have been access to financial processes,” said Kaspersky Lab expert, Kurt Baumgartner, adding, “What’s interesting here is that these attacks are ongoing globally against banks themselves. The banks have not been adequately prepared in many cases to deal with this.”

Baumgartner went on to say that those conducting the attacks are “pushing money out of the banks from within the banks” by targeting computers that operate ATMs.

Unlike most other attacks, it drops no malware files onto the hard drive, but hides them in the memory. This combined approach helps to avoid detection by white listing technologies, and leaves forensic investigators with almost no artefacts or malware samples to work with.

Speaking to The Guardian, on the issue as it relates to Nigeria, the Chief Operating Officer, Manna Microfinance Bank, Tobe Nnadozie, the cyber attacks target mostly online platforms in Nigeria.

He stressed that banks that also try to do short cut by running payments on plain platforms without the security layers are the first set of casualties this will hit.

According to him, when the cyber fraudsters want to attack, they start with avenues they can easily penetrate. “Unfortunately for the industry, except we move on time, if they are able to hack into all these avenues, the danger is that there may be other bank cardholders that transact on these unsecured layers or the expired certificate layers and they will get their fingers burnt.”

Nnadozie stressed the need for continuous education, saying that due to apathy to customer enlightenment, lack of cohesion among the financial institutions in Nigeria, players do their own education separately. “This will not work. It is the industry that will be affected by this cyber attack, so there is need for more cohesion in our messages. What currently operates now is that when bank A brings out an advert that says customers should watch out for this and that, bank B will not want to bring out the same in order not to be labelled as a copycat. This trend has even moved to the Micro Finance banks.”

He urged the CBN to lead the cause by running continuous awareness programmes in different languages on this menace; as most people still not know that phishing (tricking people into disclosing their bank details) is on the increase.

The truth about Nigeria is that apart from the ATM cards and ATM terminals, most other platforms are heavily prone to fraud because people are trying to beat the standard and in the course of doing such they create opportunities for fraudsters.

Nnadozie stressed that as the fraudsters are changing their games, Nigeria too should up the ante to fight the menace, and called for effective legislation to curb the trend. “The jail term should be commensurate punishment for offenders caught, if not, more people will be attracted to the crime.”

To the Director-General, Delta State Innovation Hub, Chris Uwaje, the challenge is that the ATMs don’t have indigenous language, which makes users more vulnerable.

Uwaje said malware are designed in specific modular languages following a particular route and because the software that drives most of the ATMs in the country are in the cloud, they are controlled by other people.

CEO/Founder Investors King Ltd, a foreign exchange research analyst, contributing author on New York-based Talk Markets and Investing.com, with over a decade experience in the global financial markets.

Telecommunications

Truecaller Hits 43 million African Users, Releases a Business Solution

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Truecaller, a caller ID service and phone search engine, has launched an identification solution to help companies prove their legitimacy while calling customers, thus increasing safety and reducing fraud.

Truecaller helps users to see who is calling and automatically screens out spam calls and SMSes.

Truecaller Business Identity, a modern enterprise solution, allows companies to verify their identities using a green checked business badge that accurately displays the company’s profile name, photo, and logo.

“Fraud continues to be a major problem across Africa, and as a company, Truecaller wanted to provide solutions on a business as well as a personal level,” said Zakaria Hersi, Director of Business Development in Africa. “Trust is at the core of everything we do, and because we spend so much of our time on our phones, we need to make sure that our contact takes place in a secure atmosphere, which was also part of the strategy behind our harassment campaign in March this year.”

The new solution increases trust and productivity in business-to-business contact by providing customers with the assurance that the caller is a Truecaller-verified business.

A checked business on Truecaller gets a verified tick mark icon and can lock their brand name and profile picture in addition to the green Caller ID and green Verified Business badge.

Consumers would be able to tell which calls to trust as a result of this.

Importantly, users will continue to see the amount of spam marks as before, and they will have the option of labeling checked phone numbers as spam or blocking them entirely.

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Telecommunications

FG Lifts Ban on New SIM Cards’ Issuance

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The federal government yesterday reversed its policy banning the sale of new Subscriber Identification Module (SIM) cards.

The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Pantami, in agreement with industry stakeholders, also yesterday revised the National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration.

According to him, the activation of new SIM card, banned in December last year, will begin in April.

Pantami directed the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and National Identity Management Commission (NIMC) to ensure the provisions of the National Digital Identity Policy for SIM card registration are strictly followed by all operators and subscribers.

He said the implementation of the policy and issuance of new SIMs and other suspended activities would resume on the same date, provided that verification had been completed and the guidelines fully adhered to.

According to a statement by the Technical Assistant (Information Technology) to the Minister, Dr. Femi Adeluyi, an earlier policy was approved on February 4, 2020, while the revised policy was developed in early March 2021. The policy was further improved and endorsed for implementation by President Muhammadu Buhari on March 26, 2021.

According to the statement, the final amendments to the revised policy, based on the directives of Buhari to make the use of the National Identification Number (NIN) mandatory for all SIM registration, were completed on April 14, 2021.
The policy includes guidelines on new SIM acquisition and activation, SIM replacement, new SIM activation for corporates and Internet-of-Things/Machine-to-Machine (IoT/M2M), among others.

The statement said: “For the corporate registration, institutions will be required to appoint a telecoms master (at the minimum of an executive management level) to provide the operational primary NIN representation. The telecoms master will also be responsible to ensure that the users provide their NINs to serve as a secondary NIN.

“For IoT/M2M activations, SIM security protocols would be implemented on the SIM profile to ensure that SIMs can only be used for point-to-point data services specific to the URL they are working with. All other services will be barred.”
Pantami stated that progress had been made in the NIN registration process.

“Nonetheless, the federal government is committed to supporting all Nigerians and legal residents to obtain a NIN. The biometric verification process has been slower than anticipated, owing largely to the non-adherence of many previous SIM biometric capture processes to the NIMC standards.

“The revised policy will ensure that operators conform to the required standards for biometric capture. The guidelines in the policy have been painstakingly developed and while they are thorough, it should be noted that they have been developed that way in national interest since the SIM is essentially a national resource. Citizens and legal residents are encouraged to bear with the government as the process has been developed in the best interest of the country,” the statement added.

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E-commerce

Walmart eCommerce Sales to Grow by 21% in 2021 to $65 Billion, Nearly a Sixth of Amazon’s $367 Billion

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A massive boom in click-and-collect trends is expected to accelerate Walmart’s pandemic-driven momentum through 2021.

According to the research data analyzed and published by ComprarAcciones.comWalmart’s online sales will grow by 21.2% to $64.62 billion in 2021. Its share of US online sales will rise from 6.7% in 2020 to 7.1% in 2021.

Based on the latest NRF ranking, Walmart is the world’s biggest retailer, followed closely by Amazon. Its total sales for 2020 – both online and offline – amounted to $559 billion, more than $200 billion ahead of Amazon’s figure.

Click-and-Collect Purchases will Grow by 15% to $83 Billion in 2021

Walmart’s US online sales for 2021 will almost double eBay’s estimated $38.67 billion. They will also be higher than the combined total of $60.59 billion that Best Buy, Target and The Home Depot will generate.

However, the big box retailer will be far behind the top US online marketplace, Amazon. Amazon’s sales are projected to reach $367.19 billion, nearly six times the Walmart total. Its share of US online sales will increase from 39.8% to 40.4%. Third-party vendors on the platform will grow sales by 16.5% to $220.39 billion. That will be 60% of total sales.

Among the factors driving Walmart’s growth is its huge brick-and-mortar footprint which drives online sales via click-and-collect. It has more than 4,700 stores in the US and 90% of Americans live within a 10-mile radius of one of them.

The click-and-collect trend saw significant growth in 2020. According to an eMarketer report, US shoppers made purchases worth $72.46 billion using the method. Compared to the 2019 total of $35.02 billion, the figure marked a growth rate of 106.9% YoY. It accounted for 9.1% of all online purchases, up from 5.8% in 2020. The growth is expected to carry into 2021. Total sales are also set to rise by 15.2% to $83.47 billion.

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