Trend micro's unsettling midyear report on cyber activities
Country Managing Director for the African Cluster at Trend Micro, Gareth Redelinghuys

[dropcap]I[/dropcap]n a comprehensive cybersecurity revelation, Trend Micro, a global leader in cybersecurity, discloses its role in blocking over 10 million email threats, 800,000 malicious URLs, and almost 4,500 malicious mobile apps targeting Nigerian businesses and consumers during the first half of 2023.

Country Managing Director for the African Cluster at Trend Micro, Gareth Redelinghuys emphasizes the mounting intricacy of the local threat landscape, urging the adoption of proactive security solutions.

Ransomware Evolution: A Constant Challenge

The Midyear Cybersecurity Threat Report delves into the ransomware challenge faced by local companies, with hundreds of detections in June alone.

Notably, Trend Micro researchers identify a new ransomware variant named ‘Mimic,’ suspected to be linked with the notorious Conti ransomware group. Collaboration among ransomware groups is a notable trend, aiming to enhance efficiency and adapt business models.

Threat actors are diversifying their data exfiltration efforts towards tactics like cryptocurrency theft and business email compromise (BEC).

Redelinghuys underscores the significance of this evolution, stating:

“Our latest research shows that illegal actors are shifting targets and getting increasingly creative to become more efficient and prolific. Prioritizing a set of proactive and holistic security solutions has never been more important.”

 

AI’s Dark Side: Cybercriminals Gain Efficiency

An emerging trend in the first half of 2023 is the nefarious use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) by cybercriminals to execute virtual crimes more efficiently. Nigerian businesses have implemented AI to elevate operations, but malicious actors are now exploiting AI technology to accurately impersonate real people in their attacks and scams. Imposter scams, including virtual kidnapping, are on the rise globally.

Redelinghuys warns, “The local threat landscape becomes more intricate and convoluted. Our latest research shows that illegal actors are shifting targets and getting increasingly creative to become more efficient and prolific. Prioritizing a set of proactive and holistic security solutions has never been more important.”

 

Harpoon Whaling Attacks: AI Empowers Targeting Executives

The report highlights the role of AI tools, including ChatGPT, in automating the gathering of information, formation of target groups, and identification of vulnerable behaviors. This automation assists cybercriminals in executing harpoon whaling attacks – highly targeted social engineering scams aimed at tricking executives and directors.

Redelinghuys notes, “With AI tools becoming increasingly adept at creating text that can seem human-crafted, the effort needed to attack executives has been drastically reduced, making the targeting of hundreds of thousands of executives easier than ever before.”

 

Innovations in Targeting Victims: A Broader Net Cast

As innovations continue, threat actors find new ways to victimize people. Connected cars, with over 100 million lines of code, present a new avenue for cybercriminals. By hijacking or stealing user accounts, attackers could locate and potentially steal the car, or worse, target the owner’s home address for burglary.

Additionally, threat actors leverage vulnerabilities in smaller platforms, targeting specific services like MOVEit, 3CX, and PaperCut. Solutions Architect, Middle East, and Africa at Trend Micro, Zaheer Ebrahim, highlights the concern for local businesses, stating, “The increasingly sophisticated tactics being employed by hackers present a particular concern for local businesses which face untold potential damages at the hands of these malicious actors.”

 

Conclusion: Navigating the Evolving Cybersecurity Landscape

In this rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, staying ahead in the cat-and-mouse game requires vigilance, understanding, and proactive measures. Trend Micro’s comprehensive cybersecurity platform, backed by extensive expertise and global threat research, empowers organizations to navigate and secure their interconnected digital ecosystems.

Ebrahim concludes, “It’s critical for defenders to gain a thorough understanding of the potential risks they are facing. Knowing these threats will help them make more informed decisions and ultimately take proactive measures to stay ahead in the increasingly convoluted cat and mouse game of cybersecurity.”

Trend Micro, with its global reach and innovative solutions, stands as a stalwart defender against the ever-evolving tactics of cybercriminals. In a world where digital information exchange is central, Trend Micro strives to make this exchange safe for organizations and individuals alike

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