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Cyberattacks in Africa Comparable to Other Parts of the Globe, Says Kaspersky

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With digital transformation a top priority on the corporate agenda as companies identify new ways to grow their business, cyber attackers and opportunist cybercriminals remain very active. And although Africa is not necessarily considered a focus area for the more sophisticated types of cybercriminal activity such as targeted attacks or advanced persistent threats (APTs), the continent is certainly not immune to these or other types of cyber risks, warn Kaspersky researchers.

When looking at the general cyberthreat landscape as it impacts consumers and businesses, Kaspersky research shows that in 2020, worldwide, approximately 10% of computers experienced at least one malware attack. Interestingly, in some African countries, including South Africa, the figure was only slightly under the global 10% average, making the African region comparable to that of North America or Europe in terms of cyberattacks. On some parts of the continent, in countries like Liberia Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco as examples, Kaspersky has seen a slightly higher rate, while other parts show a lower rate – a 5% or 6% average. For the first quarter of 2021, the figures are only slightly lower than 10%, both in relative and absolute terms.

Says David Emm, Principal Security Researcher at Kaspersky; “Generally speaking, and based on our research, Africa has the same hit rate as we would see for other parts of the globe when it comes to cyberattacks and activity. This only emphasises that the cyber threat landscape truly does incorporate the whole globe where no continent or country is free of this growing danger and where all consumers, businesses and industries alike need to pay attention to effective cybersecurity measures – and especially during the current pandemic and resultant turbulent times.”

No respite in an evolving cybercrime landscape

In South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria, Kaspersky’s research has identified the top malware families as ransomware, financial/banking trojans, and crypto-miner malware. When comparing Q1 2021 with Q2 2021, Kaspersky saw a 24% increase in ransomware in Q2 2021 in South Africa, as well as an increase of 14% in crypto-miner malware. In Kenya and Nigeria, Kaspersky saw a large increase in financial/banking trojans in Q2 2021 when compared to the figures for Q1 2021 – a 59% increase in Kenya and a 32% increase in Nigeria.

While on a technical level, not much has changed when it comes to cyberattacks, what is different is that the pandemic presents a persistent topic in which the world has a vested interest in. So, unlike the Olympics or Valentine’s Day which are limited in terms of a timeline, the pandemic offers a wealth of opportunities for cybercriminals to use malware to attack. Everything from the daily numbers and lockdown restrictions to vaccinations, hackers are leveraging on every aspect of the current situation to compromise systems.

“While the bulk of attacks are still speculative and randomly targeting individuals and businesses, there is a shift happening with the increase of APTs and more strategically targeted based attacks. These use continuous, clandestine, and sophisticated hacking techniques to gain access to a system and remain inside for a prolonged period, with potentially destructive consequences. Because of the time and effort required to perpetrate such an attack, these are often levelled at high value targets, such as nation states and large businesses,” adds Emm.

Furthermore, another concern is that as the cyberthreat landscape evolves, the nature of malware is changing.

Continues Emm; “Take ransomware as an example. In the beginning, it was very random targeting as many people as possible hoping for a relatively small amount of money paid in ransom. During the past five years, there has been a shift with a decline in the number of ransomware families being developed as well as an overall global decline in attacks. However, attackers are now focusing on specific companies and individuals where they can get the maximum benefit. The new approach of ransomware is to expose data, negatively impacting the reputation of a company. To this effect, financial crime has become more sophisticated and organised.”

Financial institutions a top targeted industry

The financial services sector remains a top targeted industry in Africa when it comes to cybercriminal activity and such cyberthreats – not surprising when one considers the digital first approach this sector continues to take, driven by the needs and expectations of its customers.

“It is relatively easy for a hacker to target an individual and capture passcodes, one-time passwords, and install malware on their computers to get financial information. Increasingly, this is expanding to financial institutions given the sheer number of new entrants in the market emerging. For hackers, online or cyber fraud offers direct monetisation of an attack and gives them access to money as quickly as possible,” adds Emm.

Financial based malware and cyberattacks are also becoming more targeted, complicated, and difficult to prevent, and with digital transformation progressing at a rapid rate within such a sector, there is no shortage of attack surfaces for cybercriminals to exploit.

“In a world where cybercrime remains rife and is only fuelled by aspects like the pandemic, there is never a moment one should not consider the implications of a cyberattack, especially as the cyberthreat landscape evolves and become even more targeted and sophisticated than it was a mere few years ago. Cybercrime is a business. This means that consumers and companies alike must remain vigilant against an increasing attack surface. Not only does this entail a more focused cyber training approach for staff within an organisation, but also using the latest technologies that feature artificial intelligence and machine learning for accurate and proactive protection and prevention in real-time,” concludes Emm.

Is the CEO/Founder of Investors King Limited. A proven foreign exchange research analyst and a published author on Yahoo Finance, Businessinsider, Nasdaq, Entrepreneur.com, Investorplace, and many more. He has over two decades of experience in global financial markets.

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Fintech

Flutterwave Celebrates Inclusion in CNBC’s Top 250 Global Fintechs

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Flutterwave has been recognized as one of the Top 250 Fintech companies globally by CNBC and Statista.

Joining the ranks of industry giants like Ali Pay, Klarna, Piggyvest, and Mastercard, this accolade underscores Flutterwave’s impact on the financial technology sector.

This honor follows Flutterwave’s recent inclusion in Fast Company’s Most Innovative Companies list, highlighting the company’s pivotal role in transforming Africa’s payment landscape.

The recognition is a testament to Flutterwave’s dedication to innovation and excellence in providing seamless payment solutions across the continent.

Expressing gratitude, Flutterwave acknowledged its talented team, supportive board, reliable partners, and loyal customers for contributing to this success.

The company continues to drive progress in the fintech industry, reinforcing its commitment to enhancing financial accessibility and inclusion in Africa and beyond.

Flutterwave’s recognition on these prestigious lists marks a proud moment and a significant milestone in its journey, reflecting the company’s growing influence and leadership in the global fintech arena.

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Startups

Google Leads $250 Million Funding Round for Glance

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A logo is pictured at Google's European Engineering Center in Zurich

Google is leading a $250 million funding round for Glance, a mobile content provider.

This infusion of capital aims to expand Glance’s reach and solidify its market position amidst growing competition.

Glance, a subsidiary of InMobi Group, offers a unique service that delivers news, entertainment, and other content directly to users’ mobile screens without unlocking their devices.

With a user base exceeding 300 million across India, the US, Japan, and Indonesia, the startup has gained significant traction since its inception in 2019.

The funding round, expected to close in the coming weeks, marks a continued partnership between Google and Glance.

Google initially invested in the company in 2020, and this latest round will further enhance Glance’s capabilities to innovate and reach new audiences.

This investment reflects Google’s strategic interest in India, the world’s most populous nation, where it competes with tech giants like Microsoft, Meta, and Amazon.

With India’s rapidly growing middle class and increasing smartphone adoption, the market presents vast opportunities for digital expansion.

The support from Google comes on the heels of a previous $200 million investment by Mukesh Ambani, Asia’s wealthiest individual, which valued Glance at over $1 billion.

The startup’s largest stakeholder, InMobi, continues to thrive as a pioneer in mobile advertising, with Glance benefiting from its expertise and resources.

As Glance prepares for this new phase of growth, it stands poised to redefine how content is consumed on mobile devices worldwide.

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Technology

Cyber Threats Surge as Nigeria’s Digital Economy Expands

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cybercrime - Investors King

As Nigeria’s digital economy flourishes, it faces escalating cyber threats, prompting the Federal Government to issue 33 cyberattack advisories in the past year.

These warnings, issued by the Nigeria Computer and Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), highlight the growing vulnerability of the nation’s digital infrastructure.

Since July 2023, ngCERT has alerted Nigerians to new attack methods and vulnerabilities. With 22 advisories issued in 2024 alone, the surge in cyberattacks coincides with the accelerated digitization spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Monthly internet usage in Nigeria soared from 125,149.86 terabytes in December 2019 to 753,388.77 terabytes in March 2024.

The National Information Technology Development Agency (NITDA) notes that increased digitalization has heightened cybersecurity risks, necessitating robust protective measures.

According to Check Point Research, Nigerian businesses face approximately 2,308 attacks weekly across all sectors.

The advisories reveal various cyber threats, including ransomware and banking trojans. A recent warning highlighted Grandoreiro, a malware targeting over 1,500 banks globally, affecting 41 banking applications in Nigeria alone.

These attacks aim to steal sensitive financial data, potentially causing significant financial losses.

Nigeria’s critical infrastructure is also under threat. In August, pro-Nigerien hackers attempted to disrupt MTN Nigeria’s network, although they were unsuccessful.

During the 2023 elections, the government recorded 12.99 million cyberattacks, underscoring the scale of the threat.

Cybercrime costs Nigeria about $500 million annually. This includes data damage, stolen money, lost productivity, and post-attack disruptions.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation ranked Nigeria as the 16th country worst affected by cybercrime in 2020.

Experts emphasize the need for stronger cybersecurity measures. Adesina Sodiya, a professor of Computer Science and Information Security, warns that cyberattacks will continue to grow in sophistication.

He stresses the importance of building a cybersecurity curriculum and involving experts in creating effective strategies.

In response, NITDA plans to reduce cyberattacks by 40% by 2027. “As we digitize, we must build with security in mind,” said Kashifu Inuwa, director-general of NITDA.

The agency aims to implement comprehensive strategies to protect Nigeria’s burgeoning digital economy.

As Nigeria’s digital economy expands, it must address the growing cyber threats that accompany this progress. By enhancing cybersecurity measures and fostering collaboration among stakeholders, Nigeria can safeguard its digital future.

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