Business & Society

Cyber-attacks on Nigerian govt agencies rise — Report

Cyber-attacks on government agencies and organisations are on the rise in Nigeria, other African countries, and across the Middle East.
The escalation in cyber threats has been particularly severe in Africa, with Mauritius ranking 6th, Nigeria 11th, Morocco 15th, and Kenya 25th in terms of being targeted and attacked.
South Africa follows, ranking 55th globally, Check Point® Software Technologies Ltd disclosed in its Global Threat Index for October 2023, which was released in November.
It stated that Remote Access Trojan (RAT) attack has risen from sixth to second place, with a particular focus on targeting government agencies and organisations in the Middle East and Africa. The report also highlighted the expanding reach of the sophisticated RAT AgentTesla, driven by a new and complex mal-spam campaign using corrupted email attachments.
It noted that the education sector continues to be the prime target for this type of cyber-attack.
The Sales Engineer at Check Point Software, Rudi van Rooyen, said, “We cannot overlook the sophisticated tactics used by hackers to distribute malware, such as impersonating trusted brands or using malicious email attachments.
“As we enter the busy shopping season in November, it’s crucial to stay alert. Cybercriminals are taking advantage of the increased online shopping activity, and no region, including Africa, is immune to these threats.”
The cybersecurity firm also disclosed that formbook was the most prevalent malware last month with an impact of 3 percent of worldwide organisations, followed by NJRat with a global impact of 2 percent, and Remcos with a global impact of two percent.
Highlighting their impact on the continent, the firm said, “Formbook is an Infostealer targeting the Windows OS and was first detected in 2016. It is marketed as Malware as a Service (MaaS) in underground hacking forums for its strong evasion techniques and relatively low price.
“FormBook harvests credentials from various web browsers, collects screenshots, monitors and logs keystrokes, and can download and execute files according to orders from its C&C. Its impact in Kenya and Nigeria is significant at 16.9 percent and 9.2 percent respectively, while the impact in South Africa is lower at 3 percent.”
NJRat, a remote access Trojan, largely targets government agencies and organisations in the Middle East but is now growing significantly in Africa. Remcos distributes itself through malicious Microsoft Office documents, which are attached to SPAM emails, and is designed to bypass Microsoft Windows UAC security and execute malware with high-level privileges.
Although its presence globally is concerning, it has not made a significant appearance in Africa. The top attacked industries on the continent include communications, ISP/MSP, finance and banking, and government and military.
Recently, Anonymous Sudan, a cybercriminal group, tried to shut down MTN Nigeria’s network, to protest Nigeria’s stance on the coup in the Republic of Niger.
Also, the National Information Technology Development Agency, through its Computer Emergency Readiness and Response Team, recently issued a warning that it had detected hacking activities targeted at government digital services.
It said, “The hacktivist group, known for its politically and religiously motivated cyber campaigns, poses a significant risk to our critical information infrastructure.”

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