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Kaspersky Records Over 2 Million Phishing Attacks in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria in H1 2021 and Spam Email Still a Threat

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There was a reduction in the number of phishing attacks recorded and blocked by Kaspersky in South Africa (17% decline), Kenya (48% decline), and Nigeria (13% decline) for the first half of this year when compared to the same period in 2020.

While the decline does suggest and support research trends – that cybercriminals have become more targeted, focusing their efforts on advanced persistent threat (APT) campaigns in Africa – the phishing threat is still very prevalent, says Kaspersky.

“This decrease is in line with global trends and supports the decline that Kaspersky research identified happening through the course of last year already. Of course, this does not mean that organisations and consumers can ignore the risk of traditional cybercrime attacks or that phishing, as well as spam, are still not of significant concern across Africa. Instead, people need to become even more aware of cybersecurity best practice and remain vigilant to protect their personal and business systems from the risk of compromise,” says Bethwel Opil, Enterprise Sales Manager at Kaspersky in Africa.

For instance, spam constituted almost 30% of email traffic in South Africa and close on 35% in Kenya in H1 2021. The number of phishing attacks recorded in South Africa for the first half of 2021 exceeded one million at 1 031 006. In Kenya phishing attacks were recorded at 601 557, and in Nigeria 393 569. Reaching over two million attacks combined highlights that phishing is still a significant threat in Africa and illustrates the importance of ensuring cybersecurity solutions are installed on all connected devices.

“Phishing and spam remain some of the most effective ways of targeting unsuspecting users and gaining access into corporate systems or compromising personal financial and other information that can be used to perpetrate identity theft,” says Opil.

Phishing attacks across the continent have baited unsuspecting victims into handing over bank information, ID numbers, and more. Cybercriminals have become even savvier with their tactics, embracing more sophisticated technology to lure people into clicking on things they should not. For instance, the COVID-19 vaccine rollout throughout Africa has given rise to ample opportunity for cybercriminals to carry out several attacks that are hidden in what, at first glance, may appear to be relevant information.

In addition to installing relevant cybersecurity solutions, individuals and businesses must consider the following tips to protect themselves against spam email and phishing:

  • Use multiple email addresses. One can be for personal correspondence while another can be used for online shopping or social media.
  • Never respond to any spam. Malicious users verify receipt and log responses of active email addresses.
  • Always check the link, before you click – make sure the links start with https:// and not http://.
  • Do not rush or panic react – scammers use such tactics to pressure you into clicking links or opening attachments.
  • Keep your browser and operating system software up to date with the latest patches.
  • Use anti-spam filters in addition to antivirus and Internet security solutions.

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.

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Social Media

Facebook Halts ‘Instagram Kids’ Project Following Criticism

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Facebook, which faced sharp criticism from lawmakers and users for its plan to develop an Instagram for kids, announced Monday it’s pausing work on the project.

“While we believe building ‘Instagram Kids’ is the right thing to do, Instagram, and its parent company Facebook, will re-evaluate the project at a later date. In the interim Instagram will continue to focus on teen safety and expanding parental supervision features for teens,” the company said in a statement.

Instagram head Adam Mosseri said the app was meant for children ages 10 to 12.

The pause comes after an explosive Wall Street Journal report showed Facebook repeatedly found its Instagram app is harmful to many teenagers. The Journal cited Facebook studies over the past three years that examined how Instagram affects its young user base, with teenage girls being most notably harmed.

One internal Facebook presentation said that among teens who reported suicidal thoughts, 13% of British users and 6% of American users traced the issue to Instagram.

The report led lawmakers to readdress their concerns over the social media app. Just after the news broke, representatives on both sides of the aisle demanded answers from Facebook. Rep. Lori Trahan, D-Mass., also called on Facebook to abandon its Instagram for kids efforts.

Antigone Davis, Facebook’s global head of safety, will testify before the Senate Commerce subcommittee on consumer protection on Thursday.

Facebook has repeatedly defended its efforts to draw more kids to the app. Mosseri argued in a blog post early Monday that children are already online.

“Critics of ‘Instagram Kids’ will see this as an acknowledgment that the project is a bad idea. That’s not the case. The reality is that kids are already online, and we believe that developing age-appropriate experiences designed specifically for them is far better for parents than where we are today,” he said. Instagram will pause its work to address concerns with parents, experts, policymakers and regulators.

Instagram will also work on expanding its parental controls to teen accounts.

“These new features, which parents and teens can opt into, will give parents the tools to meaningfully shape their teen’s experience,” Mosseri said.

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Telecommunications

Mobile Operators Experienced 16,000 Outages in Seven Months, Says Minister

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The Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Dr. Isa Ibrahim Pantami has disclosed that there were about 16,000 reported outages by mobile network operators in the country from January 2021 to July 2021.

The outages, according to him, were due to fibre cuts, access denial and theft, leading to service disruption in the affected areas.

The Minister who disclosed this in Maiduguri, during a recent town hall meeting, where he addressed the vandalism of power and telecommunications infrastructure, noted that the protection of the critical infrastructural facility was key to the nation’s security, economic vitality, public health and safety.

The event, which was organised by the Ministry of Information and Culture, was attended by Governor Babagana Zulum of Borno State, his Deputy, Mr. Usman Kadafur, and other stakeholders. The Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, led some other ministers who were panellists at the town hall meeting.

Pantami, who was represented by the Commissioner for Technical Services, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Mr. Ubale Maska, decried the situation where telecoms installations that were destroyed in the attacks by terrorists had not been replaced as a result of the lingering insecurity and tensions in parts of the North-east.

As a way forward, the minister recommended continuous stakeholders buying-in and synergy among security forces.
He also urged the National Assembly to expedite the passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Bill for onward submission to the President for assent.

Pantami, also said the Fifth Generation (5G) network, that was recently approved by the Federal Executive Council, would be deployed in Nigeria in January 2022. He said when deployed, it would aid the surveillance of public assets against vandalism.

He said while the technology would boost surveillance against criminal elements vandalising public infrastructure across the country, other measures should be put in place to arrest them and bring them to book.

The minister disclosed that there were over 50,000 telecommunication sites across the country, which made it difficult to manage manually except through the deployment of modern technology.

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Fund Raising

Nigerian Energy Startup Secures $2M Investment From Shell-Owned Fund

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Nigerian startup Infibranches Technologies, which helps solar energy providers manage their operations and receive payments, has secured US$2 million funding from All On, an impact investment company backed by oil major Shell.

Founded in 2019, the Lagos-based Infibranches has developed two flagship products – OmniBranches and Green Energy Plug – that help companies with large distribution networks, particularly solar home system distributors and mini-grid developers, manage their operations.

OmniBranches is a management platform with features that include agent hierarchy management, commission tracking, transaction records, transaction analytics, and profile management, while Green Energy Plug is a single point of integration for payments and other financial services for service providers in the Nigerian renewable energy sector.

So far the company has served over one million customers and processed over US$120 million in transactions, and the US$2 million All On investment will be used to support the next stage of its growth by financing inventory, agent acquisition, and product and technology development, as well as providing working capital for Infibranches’ plans to distribute solar home systems for households and commercial users across Nigeria, with a special focus in the Niger Delta.

“Through this investment, Infibranches plans to speed up customer acquisition in its current markets. This will also improve existing products like Omnibranches, which has served over a million customers and introduce new products and services to address energy distribution issues,” said chief executive officer (CEO) Olusola Owoyemi.

Dr Wiebe Boer, chief executive of All On, commended Infibrances for its innovative business model that solves payments and collections problems solar system distributors and mini-grid developers face across Nigeria.

“This partnership merges fintech and renewables in a way we haven’t seen in Nigeria before and will enable tens of thousands of new electricity connections,” he said.

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