Tech-Trends

NCC: How to guard against Flubot malware attack

The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) recently alerted millions of Nigerian telecom consumers of the existence of new, high-risk and extremely damaging malware called Flubot.

A malware is a generic word used to describe a virus or software, designed specially to “disrupt, damage, or gain unauthorized access to a computer system.”

According to the information received from the Nigeria Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT), Flubot “targets Androids with fake security updates and App installations.”

The ngCERT affirmed that Flubot “impersonates Android mobile banking applications to draw fake web view on targeted applications” and its goal transcends stealing personal data and essentially targets stealing of credit card details or online banking credentials.

FluBot is circulated through Short Message Service (SMS) and can snoop “on incoming notifications, initiate calls, read or write SMS, and transmit the victim’s contact list to its control centre.”

This malware attacks Android devices by pretending to be “FedEx, DHL, Correos, and Chrome applications” and compels unsuspecting users to alter the accessibility configurations on their devices in order to maintain continuous presence on devices.

The new malware undermines the security of devices by copying fake login screens of prominent banks, and the moment the users enter their login details on the fake pages, their data is harvested and transmitted to the malware operators’ control point from where the data is exploited by intercepting banking-related One Time Passwords (OTPs) and replacing the default SMS app on the targeted Android device.

Consequently, it secures admittance into the device through SMS and proceeds to transmit similar messages to other contacts that may be on the device it has attacked enticing them into downloading the fake app.

It suffices to say that, when Flubot infects a device, it can result in incalculable financial losses. Additionally, the malware creates a backdoor which grants access to the user’s device, thus enabling the invader or attacker to perform other criminal actions, including launching other variants of malware.

In view of this discovery and understanding of the process by which this malware operates, and in order to protect millions of telecom consumers and prevent criminal forces, irrespective of location, from using telecom platforms to perpetrate fraud and irredeemable damages, the NCC  reiterated the advisory of ngCERT as follows:

1. Do not click on the link if you receive a suspicious text message, and do not install any app or security update the page asks you to install.

2. Use updated antivirus software that detects and prevents malware infections.

3. Apply critical patches to the system and application.

4. Use strong passwords and enable Two-Factor Authentication (2FA) over logins.

SUN

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Tech-Trends

Facebook,Instagram, WhatsApp, Messenger back online after a massive outage

The outage started just before noon ET and took nearly six hours before it was resolved. This is the worst outage for Facebook since a 2019 incident took its site offline for more than 24 hours, as the downtime hit hardest on the small businesses and creators who rely on these services for their income.

Facebook issued an explanation for the outage on Monday evening, saying that it was due to a configuration issue. The company says it doesn’t believe any user data was impacted.

After failing all tests for most of the day, a test of ISP DNS servers via DNSchecker.org showed most of them successfully finding a route to Facebook.com at 5:30PM ET. A few minutes later, we were able to start using Facebook and Instagram normally; however, it may take time for the DNS fixes to reach everyone.

On Twitter, Facebook communications exec Andy Stone says, “We’re aware that some people are having trouble accessing our apps and products. We’re working to get things back to normal as quickly as possible, and we apologize for any inconvenience.” Mike Schroepfer, who will step down from his post as CTO next year, tweeted, “We are experiencing networking issues and teams are working as fast as possible to debug and restore as fast as possible.”

Details later…

The Verge

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Economy

Twitter Ban: Nigeria Loses $360m Revenue within 100 Days

A group of social enterprises yesterday announced that the continued suspension of the micro blogging site, Twitter, in Nigeria has cost the country about $360 million in economic revenue in 100 days of its suspension.

The coalition, which made the announcement, includes groups like Enough is Enough Nigeria (EiE), Paradigm Initiative (PIN), Media Rights Agenda (MRA), Socio-Economic Rights And Accountability Project (SERAP) among others.

It also claimed that the government, while claiming to promote innovation and at the same time clamping down on tech companies was contradictory to its economic drive promoting national development.

Speaking to journalists in Lagos to mark the 100 days since the government announced the suspension of Twitter, the Executive Director of Paradigm Initiative, Gbenga Sesan, noted that as far as they are concerned, the ban remains illegal as rule of law must prevail in a democratic dispensation.

Citing NetBlocks cost of shutdown tool, Sesan said the blockade costs Nigeria’s economy $250,600 every hour in the last 2,400 hours the federal government banned the platform in the country.

He said: “Suspending twitter in Nigeria is illegal, and we are saying it categorically, as we expect the court to support what we have said because the order to suspend the telecommunications companies was not done with a court warrant.

“Maybe they can now come up with a backdated court warrant, well at that time, the court was on strike, so there was no way they would have obtained it.”

The group, which is advocating for digital rights and freedom of speech, however, alleged that the government has been making up reasons for the continued suspension.

Sesan added: “Please do not forget that at the beginning they said the reason for the ban was to free the space from the activities of terrorists, and then they claimed it is now safe. My question is if it is now safe why is the suspension still on?”

The coalition, having also alleged that the measure taken by the federal government in declaring the platform suspended undermines Nigeria’s corporate existence, disclosed that it has taken some measures to call on the government to rescind the suspension of Twitter.

On his part, the Programme Director, Media Right Agenda (MDA), Ayode Longe, said Enough is Enough(EIE) Nigeria has filed a N5 billion claim at the federal High court in Lagos against four mobile telecommunications operators in Nigeria over the blocking of access to twitter, in a class action on behalf of the companies’ subscribers, including PIN and MRA.

“This action is founded on the belief that the telecommunications operators have no legal authority to block our access to Twitter. MRA filed a separate suit against the National Broadcasting Commission (NBC) challenging its powers to licence social media platforms, following its announcement calling on all social media platforms operating or seeking to operate in Nigeria to register with the commission and obtain a licence,” Longe said.

They also maintained that since June 4, 2021, Nigeria has not been the same as the effect of the Twitter ban touches all aspects of social and economic growth.

“Nigeria has lost at least $360 million in the past 100 days since the twitter ban,” they revealed.

Similarly, the Executive Director, Enough is Enough (EIE), Yemi Adamolekun, said NCDC was one of the government agencies that made excellent use of the platform to disseminate information during the COVID-19 lockdown for quick updates to the public.

“In shutting down twitter, you have shut down that effective channel of communication, and we can see the difference because post-Delta variant, as Nigerians have not been engaged as they were at the peak of the pandemic.

“This is also not about the platform itself, but about some fundamental structure of governance in Nigeria. The government is afraid of the platform because it is found to supporting young people to give their voice and advocating additional channels to raise money,” he stated.

THISDAY LIVE

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Tech-Trends

Glo beats others to achieve customer growth in July –Industry report

Nigeria’s digital solutions provider, Globacom, led the growth of the industry in the month of July, 2021, after it added over a million new customers to its customer base.

Latest published statistics from the industry’s regulator, Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), shows that Globacom was the only network whose subscriber base grew in July, as MTN and Airtel both suffered losses, while 9mobile was stagnant.

The NCC report also shows that Globacom was equally the only operator that added new data customers during the period. Its internet subscribers rose from 37,875,966 in June to 38,214,155 in July, a growth of 338,189 new data customers. 

MTN’s internet subscriber base shrank from 59,594,891 in June   to 59,008,651 in July, a loss of 586,240, just as Airtel lost 182,682 data customers from the  36,235,905  it had in June to  36,053,223  recorded at the end of July. 9mobile had the same figure of 6,108,151 for the two months, according to the NCC report.

In the same vein, the data indicates that Globacom added 1,007,259 new subscribers to see its subscriber base grow from 50,130,540 in June to 51,137,799 at the end of July.

MTN, on the other hand, lost 447,460 subscribers as its figure fell from 73,571,192 in June to 73,123,732 in July. Airtel’s subscriber base which stood at 50,665,723 in June fell to 50,301,237 in July, showing a loss of 364,486 customers. 9mobile, however, remained stagnant in its numbers with 12,908,092 subscribers reported.

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Business News

Zenith Bank introduces ZIVA, intelligent WhatsApp Chatbot

Nigeria’s leading financial institution, Zenith Bank Plc, has introduced an Artificial Intelligence (AI)-powered Chatbot on WhatsApp ,named ZIVA (Zenith Intelligent Virtual Assistant), which enables customers to perform financial transactions and enjoy real-time customer service from their mobile phones.

Customers can enrol by simply adding the bank’s verified WhatsApp mobile number 07040004422 on their mobile devices, agree to the legal terms of use and then initiate a conversation. This product provides the convenience for the bank’s customers to interact and transact on a 24 hours basis on the encrypted WhatsApp platform.

With this capability to respond to chats/queries anchored on the existing WhatsApp platform, customers will be able to open new accounts, receive instant transaction notifications, check their balances on the go, transfer funds and top up airtime. They will also be able to confirm cheques, pay bills, apply for loans, block their accounts, and request mini statements, among other banking services.

Commenting on the new banking solution, the Group Managing Director/Chief Executive of Zenith Bank Plc, Mr. Ebenezer Onyeagwu, said: “The launch of ZIVA is driven by the need for additional secured channels of communication with our customers as we deepen our retail penetration”.

Speaking further on the WhatsApp chatbot, Onyeagwu noted that “since the behavioural pattern of the modern customers dictates that they want to engage with brands over the channel of their choice, it was really important for us as a leading financial services institution and a pioneer of several technological innovations in the financial services industry to implement this solution in order to continue to create value for our teeming customers who incidentally were already using WhatsApp as a primary channel of communication”.

Zenith Bank has continued to distinguish itself in the Nigerian financial services industry through superior service offerings, unique customer experience and sound financial indices. The bank has remained a clear leader in the digital space with several firsts in the deployment of innovative products, solutions and an assortment of alternative channels that ensure convenience, speed and safety of transactions.

The bank’s commitment to world-class service standards has led to several product innovations, including the “Zenith Timeless Account”, which allows Nigerians aged 60 years and above to bank for free, the “Zenith Save4me”, a high-interest target savings account and the deployment of contactless payments and QR on ATM points, among others.

Zenith Bank places a premium on its core business strategy anchored on People, Technology and Service, to create value for its numerous clientele. With a team of dedicated professionals, the bank leverages its robust Information and Communication Technology (ICT) infrastructure to provide cutting-edge solutions and products through its network of branches and electronic/digital channels.

In recognition of its track record of excellent performance and commitment to best-in-class service, Zenith Bank was voted as Best Commercial Bank in Nigeria in the World Finance Banking Awards 2021.

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Nation

Twitter Ban: FG says microblogging platform has agreed to 7 out of its 10 demands

The Federal Government has said that Twitter has agreed to 7 out of the 10 demands that it put forward to lift the suspension it placed on the microblogging and social networking platform.

This is coming about a week after the government said it might be lifting the ban on Twitter in a matter of days.

This disclosure was made by the Minister of Information and Culture, Alhaji Lai Mohammed, during his on-going engagement with various global media outlets, global think tanks and influencers in Washington DC.

According to the News Agency of Nigeria, the engagement is to enable the minister put across the correct narratives about what is happening in Nigeria, showcase government achievements and present challenges facing the country.

What the Minister of Information and Culture is saying

Mohammed, during his respective interaction with Reuters, Washington Post and Bloomberg Quicktake, a live streaming news service, said there is an end in sight with the amicable settlement of the ban.

The Minister said, “We believe that even the other three outstanding demands, are not really about whether they agreed or not but about timing and scheduling. That is what gave me the confidence that we are getting nearer to an agreement.’’

He said that some of the demands made on Twitter include that the platform should register as a Nigerian company, pay taxes from revenue made from the country and ensure that harmful contents are regulated.

He said, “As recently as last week, we exchange correspondence with Twitter, and when I left home a few days ago, we were expecting a reply from them. It is rather, more left with Twitter to respond to grey areas that we asked them to look into.

“We are not inflexible in our negotiation with Twitter because we recognise both the positive and negative aspects of the social media.’’

Mohammed said the Twitter ban had been very effective in the country because they see less of harmful and injurious content on social media adding that other social media platforms had been more conscious and alert to injurious content likely to threaten national security.

The minister pointed out that from the discussions they had with Twitter, it will not be business as usual when the platform resumed operations.

Mohammed insisted that the operations of Twitter were suspended because they were threatening national security, pitching one ethnic group against the other, interfering recklessly in the internal affairs of the country and not because it deleted President Muhammadu Buhari’s tweet.

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Tech-Trends

Twitter ban: Nigerians lose N150.46bn in two months

Nigeria businesses may have lost N150.46bn ($366.88m) since the Federal Government’s ban on Twitter took effect in the country on June 5.

This figure was calculated based on the NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool. According to the tool, it costs Nigeria’s economy N102.77m ($250,600) every hour to ban Twitter.

It has been 1,464 hours (61 days) since the ban. In that time period, Nigeria may have lost N150.46bn.

The NetBlocks Cost of Shutdown Tool estimates the economic impact of an internet disruption, mobile data blackout or app restriction in a nation using indicators from the World Bank, International Telecommunication Union, Eurostat and U.S. Census.

The Federal Government had on June 4 announced the suspension of Twitter in Nigeria. Telecommunication companies started blocking access to Twitter on June 5, after they received a directive from the Nigerian Communications Commission to block access to Twitter.

The FG had cited the persistent use of the platform for activities capable of undermining Nigeria’s corporate existence as the reason for the suspension.

Following the ban, groups including the Socio-Economic Rights and Accountability Project, had dragged the Federal Government to the ECOWAS court.

The PUNCH reported that the Federal Government told a Federal High Court in Lagos that it had not stopped Nigerians from using Twitter, adding that many Nigerians still used it every day.

This was in a counter-affidavit the government deposed to in response to an originating motion filed by human rights lawyer, Inibehe Effiong.

The affidavit said, “The applicant (Effiong) and the class he seeks to represent can still operate those Twitter accounts from anywhere in the world and even from Nigeria.

“Nigerians are still tweeting, even at this moment as the ban on Twitter is not aimed at intimidating Nigerians or an infringement on the rights of Nigerians to express their opinion.”

According to a report by Statista, Nigeria has about 33 million active social media users, with about 26 per cent on Twitter.

Since the ban, some Nigerians have migrated to the use of Virtual Private Networks.

ExpressVPN said in June that it recorded an increase of over 200 per cent in web traffic from Nigeria since the Federal Government banned Twitter.

VPN works by changing the location of devices they run on. Small and Medium-sized Enterprises have said this has not been good for their businesses.

PUNCH

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Tech-Trends

Nigerians spent over N100 billion on browsing in 2020

The Nigerian telecommunication industry recorded significant growth in the year 2020, as Nigerians consumed a total of 205,880.4 terabytes worth of data in the year. This is according to the 2020 subscriber/network data report released by the Nigerian Communications Commission.

Using the average cost of 1GB of data at N487.18, as announced by the NCC in 2020, Nigerians spent at least N100.3 billion on internet data in the review year.

According to the report, data usage in 2020 increased from 123,648 terabytes recorded in 2019 to 205,880.4 terabytes, representing a 66.5% increase during the review period. The report also outlined that broadband penetration peaked at 45.93% within the year.

A cursory look at the report revealed that revenue generated by GSM operators increased by 12.33% from N2.02 trillion recorded in the previous year to N2.27 trillion in the review period, while internet service providers generated a sum of N68.96 billion in revenues, up 28.31% compared to N53.75 billion recorded in 2019.

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Business News

Glo rewards subscribers with 22X value on every recharge

Telecommunications company, Globacom, has rolled out a customer reward offer which gives 22 times the value of every recharge from N100 to prepaid customers on the network.

The bonus received on each recharge is valid for 7 days from the recharge date, can be used to call all networks, and is available on both paper and electronic recharge platforms.

The company disclosed that the 22X offer is designed to reward customers with huge data and voice benefits each time they recharge their Glo lines, and will avail customers the opportunity to enjoy their browsing and talking experiences from the same recharge.

Said Globacom, “Customers who recharge with N100 will be credited with N2, 200 value. They will first get the N100 recharge amount in their main account, which they can use on any Glo product as they desire. Added to this, they will receive a bonus value of N2, 100 for data and for voice calls to all networks in Nigeria. In the same vein, those who recharge with N1, 000 will receive N22, 000 worth of value comprising N1, 000 credit in their main account, which they can use on any Glo product as they wish, and a bonus value of N21, 000 for voice calls to all networks in the country and for data.”

According to the company, customers will also be privileged to enjoy as much as 5GB of bonus data and hundreds of bonus minutes depending on their volume of recharge, saying that the benefits are the most generous by any mobile network operator in the history of telephony in Nigeria.

NAIRAMETRICS

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Business News

Microsoft unveils Business Central for Africa, Middle East

Microsoft’s cloud-based business management solution, Dynamics 365 Business Central, has been launched in Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria and Lebanon.

This is as a result of the company’s dedication to enabling digitalisation across the Middle East and Africa, especially now digital transformation is a necessity for small and medium-sized businesses seeking cost-effective, streamlined systems that will make their transition seamless.

“Dynamics 365 Business Central helps small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) connect their financials, sales, service, and operations to streamline business processes and improve customer interactions,” explained Maher Al-Khaiyat, regional business applications director for Microsoft MEA Emerging Markets. “Multiple, disconnected systems are now easily combined under one secure, centralised application.”

Using Dynamics 365 Business Central, efficiency is boosted through automated tasks and workflows — all from within familiar Office tools like Outlook, Word, and Excel. “What businesses get,” added Al-Khaiyat.

The application is easy to tailor and extend to meet unique business or industry-specific needs. By putting flexibility at the core of your business, Dynamics 365 Business Central enables you to start quickly, grow at your own pace, and adapt in real time, making it the ideal solution for SMBs.

SMBs account for over 90% of all businesses in Kenya, Nigeria, Tunisia, Morocco, Algeria, and Lebanon, where Dynamics 365 Business Central will launch. SMBs across these markets will be empowered to accelerate the digital transformation of their own business processes using this innovative all-in-one solution.

SMBs can bring people, processes, and data together to manage their business end-to-end, instead of juggling standalone systems that disrupt business flow. With previously disconnected systems now brought together, tasks like connecting workflows across sales and accounting to automatically track cash flow are made effortless.

Dynamics 365 Business Central is easy to integrate with applications like payroll, banking apps, or custom APIs, with the same consistent and secure experience across devices, from laptops to phones, no matter where teams are accessing the application from.

Full Office 365 integration means teams can use familiar tools to work together and connect with colleagues and customers, whether creating professional-looking business documents in Microsoft Word templates, or exporting and updating data in Microsoft Excel.

A centralised, unified overview of your business offered by Dynamics 365 Business Central helps business owners and leaders make smarter, more streamlined decisions that improve productivity.

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