The Research and Development Team of the Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), has released the top 10 cyber threats that may be witnessed in Nigeria and indeed other parts of the world.

Tagged ‘National Cyber Threat Landscape 2021’, CSEAN, an umbrella body of all cybersecurity professionals in Nigeria, said the top 10 cyber threats is based on national and global trends in cyber threats over the past few years and expert opinions.

Commenting, the President of CSEAN, Mr. Remi Afon noted that cybersecurity intelligence reports have revealed that cybercriminals, last year, advanced their capabilities and deployed more sophisticated tools and techniques.

He argued that one of the main factors that transformed the global digital landscape was the COVID-19 pandemic which led to a rise in the use of digital technologies, forcing private and public establishments to acquire and deploy technologies that would enable them to work remotely, to reduce the impact of the pandemic on their businesses.

“We expect that some of the prevalent cyber threats will continue in 2021. This prediction is predicated on several factors. The Covid-19 pandemic remains unabated. Nigeria is currently experiencing a second wave of the virus,” he said.

He also warned that the recent directive by the federal government for SIM cards to be linked to the national identity number (NIN) presents a new platform for cybercriminals to further perpetuate their activities.

The top 10 cyber threats, identified and highlighted by the association are:

Email-Based Attacks: These include Business Email Compromise (BEC) and the various categories of advance free fraud attacks. Further, emails are used as a vector by attackers for propagating other scamming, phishing, and malware attacks. We predict that the prevalence of these email-based attacks will continue in 2021. Attackers will attempt to engage COVID-19 and NIN-SIM-registration themes to deceive unsuspecting targets.

Web Application and Services Attacks: These consist of attacks aimed at exploiting the vulnerabilities or weaknesses of web applications and services. Attacks to watch out for include website defacement, public cloud data exposure, and data leaks. The top causes of such attacks will be the exploitation of security gaps in misconfigurations and stolen credentials. The case of website defacement will be due to the activities of hacktivists in response to the actions and inactions of the government in respect of the #EndSARS protests. More government-related websites and web apps and services, and those of their sympathizers, will be targeted.

Malware: Existing, new variants of existing, and novel malware will be deployed by malicious actors against information systems belonging to individuals, organizations, and government. Mobile malware threats will increase. Ransomware will remain widespread.

Phishing: Phishing attacks will become more targeted. Criminal actors will employ COVID-19- and NIN-SIM-Registration-themed phishing emails by impersonating government, health authorities, and SIM registration sites to deceive targets into revealing sensitive information.

Identity Theft: This is the threat of deceptively obtaining or illegally acquiring personally identifiable information to commit fraud. Attackers will rely on phishing and other social engineering attacks, skimming, shoulder surfing, and dumpster diving to acquire sensitive information about their targets.

Fake News and Hate Speech: The intentional and unintentional propagation of fake news and hate speech will increase. While these are not directly cyber threats, they are often propagated via online media such as social media platforms. Senders will prey on the widespread disillusionment among Nigerians due to the unabating COVID-19 pandemic, the unfavorable economic situation being experienced in the country, and prevalent discontentment with the government’s response to the economic challenges.

Children-Targeted Attacks: Due to the lockdown, occasioned by the COVID-19 pandemic, many schools have adopted online teaching. This implies that students are bound to spend more time online, compared to how long they stayed online pre-pandemic. Cybercriminals will seek to exploit this by launching attacks targeted at kids. Attacks to watch out for include cyberstalking, cyber predation, and cyber grooming.

Hacktivism: Many of the #EndSARS protesters and sympathizers are unhappy with the decision of the government to clamp down on some prominent protesters, supporters, and sponsors. As a result, in 2021, we expect hacktivists to continue to protest the government’s actions. Many of their activities will be in the form of web-based attacks and distributed denial of service (DDOS)  against government IT assets.

Cryptojacking: More Nigerians are becoming aware and are adopting cryptocurrencies. Consequently, more cryptojackers who engage in the malicious mining of cryptocurrencies using victims’ computers or mobile devices without the knowledge of the victims are predicted to emerge.

Cybercriminal Recruitment: In 2020, many youths were forced to stay at home due to COVID-19 and a prolonged ASUU strike. Considering the 2nd wave of the pandemic and the newly discovered variants of the COVID virus, another stay-at-home order in 2021 looks likely. Moreover, the pandemic has led to job loss for many. These challengers provide exploitable opportunities for cybercriminals to lure idle and jobless youths. So, we expect the recruitment drive by cybercriminal actors to rise in 2021.


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