THE CYBERCRIME SITUATIONAL REPORT IN AFRICA:
ANGOLA AND COMOROS
Deep fake synthetic identity fraud
Identity fraud is certainly not new, with threat actors becoming increasingly skillful at combining leaked personal information with available data on the Internet and social media profiles.
The advancement in AI technology allows cyber criminals to effectively impersonate consumers’ voices and faces and hence bypass verification controls. They can then use available information and AI to generate new synthetic profiles with documents, facial images, and voice cloning to apply for loans and claim social benefits.
Not only does this create additional challenges for businesses to authenticate their customers, but it can also pose serious financial and personal risks for individuals. For example, many threat actors choose to target underage Internet users to carry out synthetic identity fraud.
“Cybercriminals are going after students and children’s profiles. If a university or an educational system is breached, attackers can use their collected information to create IDs and apply for credit cards. There’s no history of these individuals or these children,” Carey O’Connor Kolaja, CEO at AU10TIX, told Cyber News earlier.
Fraud-as-a-service (where a threat actor supplies services to carry out fraudulent activity) is becoming automated. Cybercriminals are turning to automated voice bots for impersonating businesses and socially engineering customers. The boom in this type of threat created additional issues, as it minimized the number of skills needed from a malicious actor to conduct criminal activity.
“The popularity of the scam-as-a-service model has led to scams scaling up on a global level and a lower entry threshold for newbie-scammers with no real skills for conducting scams,” a Russian cybersecurity firm Group-IB said.
Experian predicts that in 2022, “a large portion of fraudulent transactions will be submitted by legitimate consumers who are being socially engineered to not only provide data but to use their own devices to submit what they believe are legitimate transactions.”
Real-time payments fraud
Real-time payments, including mobile devices payments, create previously unseen opportunities for cybercriminals, allowing them to commit fraud and instantly cash out, converting money into cryptocurrency.
“Real-time payments (RTP) increased by 41% between 2019 and 2020 and are set to rise again by 23% between 2020 and 2025,” the report suggests.
Since cryptocurrency remains a largely unregulated space with limited exceptions, threat actors attempt to stay anonymous when laundering money through multiple channels. In the UK, for example, an average loss in contactless fraud was 650 pounds in 2020.
Fast credit fraud
A similar kind of criminal activity has to do with fast credit or the so-called “Buy Now Pay Later” model. A vast array of retailers allow customers to purchase before paying, which can be both convenient and potentially risky.
From account takeovers to using stolen credit cards for paying off the credit, malicious opportunities are, unfortunately, endless. Moreover, it does not help that merchants have minimal fraud liability with existing lenders.
Ransomware boomed during the pandemic, with large institutions and critical infrastructures facing disruptions and being forced to pay millions in ransom. Experian suggests that the use of AI will further power ransomware attacks, leaving both customer data and critical business information exposed.
Digital criminal activity is often closely interconnected with existing social and political issues. Experian suggests that following inflation and ongoing supply chain problems in 2022, there will be more cases of marketplace fraud going forward.
Threat actors will attempt to meet the market demand with fake products, filling supply gaps with a chain of scams. As a result, customers will pay for things that simply don’t exist. The number of fake websites will also likely increase, but there are some easy steps you can take to check their authenticity.
Digital identity verification fraud
Customers seek simplicity and automation: realistically, very few people wish to remember complex passwords for various sign-ins or go through lengthy payment processes. Businesses are now focused on pleasant customer experience, which often puts your security at risk.
Identity authentication remains a complex issue, with conflicting or limited regulations in place. The move to a new decentralized identity, which allows you to manage all your identities yourself, gives you more control over your information and seems to reduce the risks for organizations. However, many larger players are still reluctant to adopt the technology since data is the new oil, and not everyone is willing to part ways with access to it so easily.
An increasing amount of time spent by cybercriminals on the African continent specifically Comoros, working in the browser and accessing the internet, and cloud-based applications has been accompanied by an uptick in browser-based attacks and compromised devices.
Malware and ransomware top the list of security threats that organizations in Comoros are most concerned about. Most companies do not have advanced threat protection in place on every endpoint. The device is used to access corporate applications and resources.
Consequently, there has been a surge in a new class of cyber threats known as Highly Evasive Adaptive Threats (HEAT).
HEAT attacks target web browsers as the attack vector and employ techniques to evade detection from the traditional tools used in current security stacks such as firewalls, Secure Web Gateways, sandbox analysis, URL reputation, and phishing detection solutions.
During the last ten years in Comoros, cybercriminals have adapted to new ways in which they can exploit and bypass legacy security systems.
Employees now spend most of their time working in the cloud, tapping into SaaS applications and other tools that are pivotal to productivity. However, in doing so, their companies are now struggling to manage a variety of new blind spots in traditional approaches to security that are not ﬁt to protect modern work.
Organizations are not being proactive enough in mitigating the risk of HEAT attacks, owing in part to conflicting views about the most effective ways to manage security. Techniques to evade detection from the traditional tools used in current security stacks such as Phishing, firewalls and Secure Web Gateways are not effective.
The continent has to do more to lead the cybercriminals to enable businesses, companies, and internet transactions to boom and stabilize the African economy.