Big trouble for Nigerian phone users- Hackers stealing billions through mobile apps- N2bn stolen in 2018 alone

Phone hackers and e-fraudsters are stealing billions from phone users bank accounts in Nigeria, the Central Bank of Nigeria (CBN) has said.
The CBN said the criminals stole N2.08 billion in the last one-year from customers who use Mobile Apps and Unstructured Supplementary Service Data (USSD).

The bank disclosed that the fraudsters tried to hack people’s bank accounts through their phones, about 38,000 times and tried to steal over N9 billion in 2018.

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It said an estimated N2.08 billion was lost in 2018. The loss value is 25.7 per cent higher than the 2017 figure.

The hackers can hack into the Mobile App on almost any phone. CBN Director, Payment System Management, Sam Okojie, who broke the news at the Nigeria Electronic Fraud Forum (NeFF) general meeting in Lagos, said that customers of banks, Other Financial Institutions (OFIs), digital wallets and remittance players are prime targets for cyber criminals seeking quick monetisation of stolen credentials.

Okojere said that the more products (cheques and over-the-counter services) are channelled through those mobile devices as against previously used channels, the more attractive they become to fraudsters.

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He also disclosed that the Nigeria Interbank Settlement System (NIBBS) Fraud Report for last year showed that the mobile channel scored 28.21 per cent on the Fraud Interest Index.

The bank chief said: “This could be an early warning sign that fraudsters are shifting focus to mobile attacks and testing the waters in different types of mobile and online banking fraud in 2019.

“It is therefore important that we do not relent in our efforts at protecting this space and increasing public confidence in our electronic channels.

“The truth is that you do not need to go to a bank’s branch to carry out a transaction. Most people are carrying their cards in their phones. The money is not on the phone but is a channel through which you can assess your bank account and the money in it.

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“It is because the attention of the cyber attackers has moved to the mobile platforms. They are one of us, so they know where the interest is going. One of the things we are doing is to create awareness for both the users and the operators so that they can tighten the security around the mobile device.”

Also speaking at the forum, Executive Director, IT and Operations at Access Bank Plc, Ade Bajomo, said no bank is totally free of cyber-attacks.
To him, there are two classes of banks in Nigeria, when it comes to cyber-attacks: those that have been hacked, and those that do not know they have been hacked.

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Bajomo said hacking is a serious concern for the payment industry, given that there are even companies selling hacking toolkits, encouraging people to go into hacking.

He said: “As we gather here today, there are people who do the same in the dark world. Banks need tone compliant with needed certification for them to be ahead of the e-fraudsters. The nature of sophistication of the e-fraudsters means no one is safe. Some of the mare wares are difficult to understand.

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“Banks are where the money is and that’s why they are the primary target. And I can say that only two things can break a bank, the level of their bad loans and fraud.

“It does not matter, once one person is porous, the entire system is affected. We need to create more awareness of the need to protect our financial system.

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