Interpol cyberthreat report highlights downside of digital growth in Africa

Interpol cyberthreat report highlights downside of digital growth in Africa

With data drawn from Interpol’s member countries, private partners, and research conducted by its Africa Cybercrime Operations Desk, the latest Interpol African Cyberthreat Assessment Report looks back over 2022 and provides a comprehensive overview of cyberthreat trends in the African region.

Among the most prominent cyberthreats identified in the report from Interpol (International Criminal Police Organization, an inter-governmental organization with 195 member countries) are business email compromise campaigns. These are low-cost and low risk, but very profitable for cybercriminals.

Phishing too is a growing concern in Africa. As more people are turning to online services and applications, they are becoming increasingly vulnerable to phishing attacks.

Also increasing rapidly in number are ransomware attacks, where cybercriminals target government, retail, and public institutions, while an emerging and imminent threat to online shoppers comes in the form of banking trojans and stealers, which can damage confidence in online financial payments.

It is not difficult to obtain different kinds of trojans and stealers on underground forums; this makes it easy for cyber-criminals to launch their campaigns. Evolving functionalities make it challenging for law enforcement agencies to investigate these crimes.

Online scams are becoming increasingly prevalent and, in Africa, take advantage of poor levels of digital literacy. Cyber extortion also needs to be monitored, the report suggests, as it goes hand in hand with the proliferation of the internet and mobile technologies.

Finally Interpol’s report highlights crimeware-as-a-service (CaaS), which is becoming popular in Africa because of its ease of use, affordability, and lack of consequences due to weak legal frameworks relating to cybercrime enforcement.

CaaS refers to any computer programme or set of programmes that are designed to facilitate illegal activity online. Spyware, phishing kits, browser hijackers, and key loggers, among others, are all available to attackers through CaaS, which provides criminals with an easy way to conduct financially motivated attacks against vulnerable systems and businesses.

The African region is seeing unprecedented growth and development in the digital technology sector, particularly in financial technology and e-commerce. The potential downside of this fast-paced growth is highlighted in the report, which can be downloaded from the Interpol site.

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