A new report published by the International Criminal Police Organisation, commonly known as Interpol, gives key insights into cybercrime in Africa. The result of cross-sector collaboration, the African Cyberthreat Assessment Report 2021 will help countries in Africa to understand the most prevalent threats and formulate a coordinated regional response to cybercrime.
The Interpol report identifies the most prominent threats in Africa, based on input from Interpol member countries and data drawn from private sector partners.
The top five threats are:
- Online scams: fake emails or text messages claiming to be from a legitimate source are used to trick individuals into revealing personal or financial information;
- Digital extortion: victims are tricked into sharing sexually compromising images which are used for blackmail;
- Business email compromise: criminals hack into email systems to gain information about corporate payment systems, then deceive company employees into transferring money into their bank account;
- Ransomware: cybercriminals block the computer systems of hospitals and public institutions, then demand money to restore functionality;
- Botnets: networks of compromised machines are used as a tool to automate large-scale cyberattacks.
The African region experienced attacks against critical infrastructure and frontline services during the pandemic, Interpol said. This was most prominently seen in South Africa and Botswana. For instance, South Africa’s Life Healthcare Group, responsible for managing 66 health facilities, was hit by a serious and sustained cyberattack. Interpol’s partner, Trend Micro, recorded millions of threat detections in Africa from January 2020 to February 2021:
- Email: 679 million detections
- Files: 8.2 million detections
- Web: 14.3 million detections