Experts see surge in cyber security threats this year


The Cyber Security Experts Association of Nigeria (CSEAN), an umbrella body of all cyber security professionals, has projected that with the increase in the use of artificial intelligence for malicious purposes, Nigeria may face a surge in cyber security threats

The experts in an 11-page report on ‘National Cyber Threat Forecast 2024’, co-authored by Oluwafemi Osho, John Odumesi, Hamzat Lateef, Olajumoke Oloyede and Jonathan Ayodele, who are members of the Directorate of Research and Development at the CSSAN), drew insights from diverse sources, including cyber threat reports, and incident analyses and analysed data from various sources.

The report pointed out the continued surge in mis- or disinformation, ransomware attacks, attacks against vulnerable government’s online assets, crypto scams, benefit and employment scams, information and credential theft, AI-enabled threats, impersonation scams, insider threats, cyber hacktivism and web defacement portend danger for the cyberspace.

The study projected an escalation in the severity and frequency of web defacement incidents, affecting a diverse range of industries, adding that the high incidence of attacks on academic institutions highlights the urgent need for all sectors, especially education, to reassess and bolster their cybersecurity measures.

It said: “Attackers will leverage the capabilities of AI to enhance the efficiency and effectiveness of their cyber-criminal activities. This will manifest in more personalised phishing attacks, personalised malware, automated large-scale attacks, and sophisticated social engineering attacks.

“In 2024, Nigeria is poised to continue facing the challenge of impersonation scams. These scams involve creating fake websites and social media profiles, using the names and images of well-known figures to deceive the public. Nigeria can be expected to witness a surge in employment and benefit scams, a trend that has been prevalent in 2023. These scams often lure victims with promises of financial inducements and part-time job offers, primarily disseminated through various digital platforms.”

The report mentioned that Nigeria witnessed the disruptive force of cyber hacktivism following the coup d’état in the Republic of Niger, saying it is likely that 2024 will see an increase in similar activities.

It attributed the anticipated increase in scams to Nigeria’s challenging economy, which may drive more individuals to seek financial opportunities online.

To mitigate AI exploitation for cybercrimes, the report emphasized that individuals should stay informed and practise cybersecurity hygiene, saying organisations must invest in AI-driven security solutions and staff training. Governments, it noted, should enforce robust cyber laws, support research in AI security and foster public-private partnerships for sharing intelligence and best practices in cybersecurity.

The President of the association, Ade Shoyinka, emphasized the need for collaboration between public and private sectors, the adoption of updated computing resources and a commitment to cybersecurity best practices.

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