Sat. Dec 3rd, 2022

INTERPOL’s 2021 Africa Cyber ​​Threat Assessment Report shows that cybercrime is one of the most prevalent threats facing the African continent;

Report data shows that more than 90% of African businesses operate without the necessary cybersecurity protections, making the continent highly vulnerable to cybercriminal activity;

The report identifies five of the most important cyber threats facing Africa today: online fraud, data extortion, commercial email compromise, ransomware, and botnets.

Recently, Interpol released a document entitled “2021 Africa Cyber ​​Threat Assessment Report”, which aims to reveal and analyze cyber threats in Africa and provide valuable information on the cyber crime situation in the region.

Cybercrime is one of the most pervasive threats facing the African continent. Data provided by the report shows that more than 90 percent of African businesses operate without the necessary cybersecurity protections, leaving the continent highly vulnerable to cybercriminal activity.

It should be noted that Africa is estimated to have around 500 million internet users, which is only 38% of the population. Africa has the fastest growing telephone and internet networks in the world, and is also the region with the most widespread use of mobile banking.

However, the above-mentioned rapid development is not supported by corresponding cybersecurity policies and standards, and African countries and their organizations are therefore exposed to huge cyber risks.

Five major threats to African cyberspace

Based on submissions from member states and data provided by private sector partners, INTERPOL has identified the most prominent cyber threats facing the African region in its 2021 Africa Cyber ​​Threat Assessment.

These criminal activities mainly include the following five types:

1 Online Fraud – In the INTERPOL African Member States report, the African region has the highest frequency and the most imminent threat of cybercriminal activity and identified as online fraud, where criminals exploit people’s fear, insecurity and vulnerability to Phishing, mass-mailing and so-called social engineering. Reports from member states show that fraudulent activities involving online banking have increased dramatically in recent years, with bank fraud and credit card fraud in particular.

2 Digital extortion – Digital extortion has also been identified as one of the most significant threats facing the African region. This kind of threat targets individuals, extorting them by means of sexual images that should not be leaked or even direct extortion. Extortion is an uncommon type of threat. But the continent’s transition to a digital society has created new attack vectors for criminals, allowing them to both hide their identities online and target new victims online.

3 Business email breaches – Like online scams, business email breaches are a significant cyber problem and threat in the African region. In Africa, businesses and organizations that rely heavily on wire transfers are vulnerable to this threat. In addition, the spread of the new crown pneumonia epidemic has also led to an increase in this threat to some extent.

4 Ransomware – The threat of ransomware is currently spreading across Africa. In 2020 alone, more than 61% of African companies are said to have been attacked by ransomware. These attacks often target critical infrastructure in the medical, maritime and other sectors of certain African countries.

5 Botnets – A botnet is an illegal network of malware-infected computers that cybercriminals can use as a tool to carry out large-scale cyberattacks such as DDoS attacks, phishing, and malware distribution. About 50,000 botnet incidents have been detected in the African region, with an average of 3,900 detections per month. DDoS attacks against critical infrastructure using botnets have been common over the past five years.

By analyzing the IP addresses sending digital ransomware spam in Africa from January to May 2021, it can be seen that the number of unique addresses accounts for about 10.6% of the total. South Africa, Morocco, Kenya and Tunisia are the countries with the most shipments.

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In its Ransomware Attack Handling Report released by Kaspersky, more than 1.5 million ransomware attacks were detected in 2020, and the most attacked countries in the first quarter of 2021 were Egypt, South Africa and Tunisia.

African Cybercrime Governance Framework

“(Cyber)criminals are not only exploiting cybersecurity gaps across the region, they are also exploiting the differences in law enforcement capabilities of different countries in the real world,” said Interpol’s director of cybercrime, Craig W. Craig Jones said.

“Interpol’s regional cybercrime strategy for Africa provides a strong framework under which member states can conduct intelligence sharing and coordinated actions to strengthen law enforcement capabilities in Africa and beyond,” he said.

The strategy Craig is referring to aims to achieve the following goals:

1 Strengthen intelligence collection to effectively tackle cybercrime;

2 to strengthen cooperation and jointly combat cybercrime;

3. Develop regional capabilities to combat cybercrime;

4 Promote a good network ecology and create a safer network space.

INTERPOL’s African Cybercrime Operations Unit is tasked with implementing strategies to curb cybercriminal activity in collaboration with key regional stakeholders such as the African Union and the African Police Cooperation Organization.

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