Daily Trust (Abuja)

23 January 2014

Nigeria: Cyber Attacks On Banks, Telecoms to Increase - Expert

An Information Technology (IT) expert has warned that cyber attacks on Nigerian banks, government institutions as well as the telecommunications sector are imminent this year.

Tim Akano, Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of New Horizons Nigeria, who was speaking yesterday in Lagos, said these institutions and many individuals may suffer attacks from malware, ransomware, advanced persistent threats, spear phishing, social network attacks, cyber attacks on banks and telecoms and cloud backlash as a result of focus on cloud computing.

Akano said attacks from malware would be unleashed by criminals through sending messages to people's personal computers (PCs) and laptops to steal information, warning that now that mobility has become the order of the day, there would be an upsurge in mobile malware.

"Smart phones and tablet vulnerabilities will be exploited by hackers to steal information and data for commercial gains and blackmail," he said.

He said: "When the ransomware pops up while browsing on the internet disguised as a genuine message from the law enforcement agents claiming that the computer user is into something unethical and illegal on the net, the device will then be locked automatically and a message requesting the owner to pay certain sum of cash into a code to get the device unlocked will be sent.

"At this level, malware that spread virus that monitors every app would have been successfully installed on the phone or tablet.

"Another security threat that will be unleashed this year is spear phishing. Under this, a user receives an email with a link to download an attachment and from the moment the user activates or clicks the download, the device is compromised."

He also said hackers would use advanced persistent threats to make life uneasy for people. "This is a targeted and persistent attack of an organisation or a country by hackers. In 2013 major banks in the United States of America (USA) suffered from this as a massive denial of service were unleashed on their networks. This will increase this year."

Hackers will also hide under the boom in social media to attack innocent people, he warned, adding that, now that close to two billion people are using both Facebook and Twitter, the platforms have become grounds for hackers to feed fat.

He also warned that more very important personalities (VIPs) will suffer attacks on their Facebook and Twitter accounts this year. Hackers will continue to create fake Facebook accounts (phishing) of important personalities to dupe unsuspecting people.

"Banks are the most vulnerable. Hackers follow the movement of cash. So, this year, banks should expect more attacks both from in-house disgruntled employees and outside cyber thieves," he said, adding that there will also be cloud backlash and cloud-hacking will become common place in 2014.

"Since most information are now stored on third party devices, hackers will continue to have a field day in getting into the cloud to steal information to be sold in the black market," he said.

Last Tuesday, a Lagos State University graduate was paraded by police for coning the Facebook accounts of Minister of Finance Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala, wife of Lagos governor, Mrs Bimbola Fashola and a female official of the Federal Capital Territory (FCT).

On same day, about 40 percent of personal data of Koreans on the web were hacked and details of their credit cards compromised.

With Agency Reports

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