Unless you live in a bunker, you definitely know a thing or two about cyber crime. The time, resources and effort cyber criminals are spending is incredible and not even in Africa they have been left behind. Africa cybercrime industry has grown exponentially and I can confidently say that there are whole mafias in parts of Africa with bosses and executors who are highly educated and well connected. Without stretching the metaphor too far, the cyber crime movement in Africa is unstoppable at least for the near future. For the past two decades, the basics of how we can protect our private data has been known but the gullibility of the common man and sometimes the shear determination of these hackers thats feeding the industry in Africa just like other parts of the world. Internet connectivity offers many benefits to consumers and businesses. On the other hand, it also offers plenty of opportunities for organised crime. Rather than going it alone, African Internet criminals are joining organised crime groups online while others are creating new ones. Whether the reasons are economic, cultural, or technical, the motivations behind joining the virtual criminal universe are plentiful. Around the continent of more than 1 billion people, some individuals and many organised crime or mafia groups are carrying out illegal acts on the web, often in the hope of becoming rich.South Africa is one of the top five target countries for cybercrime in the continent. Others include Kenya, Nigeria, Tanzania, Ghana and Egypt. I recently came across an incident where a debit card holders’ personal information was compromised when it was published on a website originating from Nigeria. This might seem like a one off case, however, these incidents are part of an organised cybercrime effort that are thriving in Africa.
Every day, thousands of pieces of information related to stolen, misappropriated, and sometimes even fake bank cards are sold by cybercriminals. In my research, Africa has three packages which are commonly offered. One of them is bank card dump where the information available on the bank card’s magnetic strip, the other is bank card information which contains all of the details about a bank card and its owner. The exact nature of data varies by vendor. Depending on quality and country where it was issued, the cost ranged from US$5 to US$50 on the 2016 black market rates in Nigeria, South Africa, Kenya, Egypt and Ghana. The last one is the bank card with change of billing and this is common in South Africa and Nigeria. More valuable than the bank card full details, this offer makes it possible to take total control over the pirated account. The information provided allows the buyer to change the victim’s address to gain better security for future fraudulent transactions ranging from delivery, mailed bank statements, and point of contact. Prices vary from US$120 to US$600, depending on supply and the authorised balance transfer and spending limits and also the country where the beneficiary resides.To gather a user’s personal information, cybercriminals in Africa are exploiting software vulnerabilities and human psychology to spawn a broad range of malware and threats including spam, spyware, root kits, phishing, botnets, adware and unsafe sites. Nigerian scammers no longer deliver threats only via spam and are taking advantage of popular social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to secure personal identify information. South Africa’s malware underworld is applying mainstream practices in an effort to trade fake security software that are either misleading or outright fraudulent.Many consumers in Africa are increasingly shopping online, taking advantage of the rising income among the middle class or looking for bargain deals. However, going forward, the criminals will only get smarter and they need to be aware of the security risks that exist and protect themselves against spam and malware attacks by using up to date security software with real time malware updates and be wary of sharing any personal information even if it is a popular shopping sites.