Researchers detect rise in attacks from Nigerian cyber criminals

Researchers detect rise in attacks from Nigerian cyber criminals
© Getty Images

Security researchers have detected a rise in attacks from Nigerian cyber criminals who they say pose a “formidable” threat to businesses across the globe.

According to a report released Tuesday by Palo Alto Networks, hackers working out of Nigeria initiated an average of 17,600 attacks per month over the past year — an increase over the 12,200 per month average detected in 2016.

ADVERTISEMENT

“As a group, these actors continue to exhibit noteworthy year-over-year technical growth as they adopt new tools and techniques,” the report from Palo Alto Networks says. 

Nigerian internet scams have attracted attention for a number of years, though threat actors have only more recently begun to employ malware in order to hack corporate networks for financial gain. 

The cybersecurity firm has tracked Nigerian cyber activity since 2014 and has witnessed a consistent growth in hackers’ technical capabilities, as well as an increase in the number of threat actors linked to the West African nation. The criminals have, for instance, started to deploy new hacking tools — adopting 15 different types of malware to carry out their attacks over three years. 

Palo Alto Networks has identified 300 cyber actors or groups that researchers associate with “SilverTerrier,” the company’s name for Nigeria’s growing group of cyber criminals.

The number of monthly attacks linked to this group reached a peak of 41,000 in August 2017, according to the report published Tuesday, and the firm detected a 45 percent increase in attacks recorded between August 2016 and August 2017.

Still, the total number of attacks from these actors is likely higher, given that the security firm was only able to analyze attacks against its customer base.

“As a group, these actors continue to exhibit noteworthy year-over-year technical growth as they adopt new tools and techniques,” the report says. “Nigerian cyber actors remain a formidable threat to businesses worldwide.”