Police and investigators fear organised gangs of fraudsters are expanding across sub-Saharan Africa, exploiting new opportunities as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the global economic crisis to make huge sums with little risk of being caught. The growth will have a direct impact on the rest of the world, where many victims of “hugely lucrative” fraud live, senior police officials have said. Experts attribute the surge in cybercrime in Africa to rapid growth of internet use at a time when police forces and criminal justice systems have been weakened by the economic consequences of a series of major challenges. “The Covid-19 pandemic has accelerated digitalisation around the world, but as life has shifted increasingly online, cybercriminals have exploited the opportunity to attack vital digital infrastructure,” said Prof Landry Signé, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and author of a recent report on the problem. “States across Africa have emerged as a favourite target of cybercriminals, with costly consequences.”
Meta has been fined €265 million ($275.5 million) by the Irish data protection commission (DPC) for a massive 2021 Facebook data leak exposing the information of hundreds of million users worldwide. This concludes the DPC’s investigation of potential GDPR violations by Meta, launched on April 14, 2021, following the publishing of data belonging to 533 million Facebook users on a hacker forum. The exposed data included personal information, such as mobile numbers, Facebook IDs, names, genders, locations, relationship statuses, occupations, dates of birth, and email addresses.
Police in China are checking people’s phones for the presence of foreign apps, including Instagram, Twitter, and the encrypted messaging app Telegram, according to reports from The Wall Street Journal and CNBC. While both outlets indicate that police are stopping people at transportation hubs in Shanghai, William Yang, the East Asia correspondent at the German outlet DW News, says it’s happening in Beijing and Hangzhou as well.
The Russian criminal crew Sandworm is launching another attack against organizations in Ukraine, using a ransomware that analysts at Slovakian software company ESET are calling RansomBoggs. In a Twitter thread, the ESET researchers wrote that they had detected RansomBoggs deployed within the networks of “multiple organizations in Ukraine.” While some aspects of RansomBoggs are different from the malware that has been linked to Sandworm – such as the malware’s code being written in .NET – the deployment methods are similar, they wrote.
A wide-ranging effort to disrupt counterfeiting and online piracy across the EU resulted in the closure of 12,526 websites hosting illegal content, according to Europol. As of this week’s Cyber Monday, police disconnected 32 servers used to distribute the content for 2294 television channels. They also shuttered 15 online stores selling counterfeit products on social media sites and seized 127,365 fake clothes, watches, shoes, accessories, perfumes, electronics and other items worth over €3.8m ($3.9m). Law enforcers across 27 countries participated in Europol’s 13th Operation In Our Sites, which ran from May 1 to November 14. The agency warned that a growing number of counterfeit items are made today inside the EU, and that IP-related offenses are increasingly linked to serious and organized crime.
The UK government has completed a major revision to controversial but populist online safety legislation that’s been in the works for years — and was finally introduced to parliament earlier this year — but has been paused since this summer following turmoil in the governing Conservative Party. In September, new secretary of state for digital, Michelle Donelan, said the reshuffled government, under newly elected prime minister Liz Truss (who has since been replaced by another new PM, Rishi Sunak) would make certain edits to the bill before bringing it back to parliament. The draft legislation is now due to return to the House of Commons next week when lawmakers will resume scrutiny of the wide-ranging speech regulation proposals.