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14 Suspected Cybercriminals Arrested in 25 African Countries

In an impressive, multinational effort to combat cybercrime, several government and private entities have banded together on a continent-wide operation resulting in the arrest of 14 individuals alleged to be involved in various cybercriminal activities across Africa. This news was relayed by INTERPOL, the international police organization, late last week.

This extensive effort dubbed Africa Cyber Surge II, was a four-month long operation launched in April 2023. It spanned 25 African nations, in collaboration with AFRIPOL, making it a truly astounding and comprehensive endeavor. The far-reaching operation was primarily aimed to pinpoint and disrupt cybercriminal activities and compromised infrastructures across this vast continent.

Through its efforts, Cyber Surge II succeeded in detecting a whopping 20,674 cyber networks, which were tied to financial losses exceeding a staggering $40 million due to their nefarious activities. With an operation of this scale and magnitude, the fight against cybercrime has definitely been ramped up, exposing the interconnected and comprehensive world of cyber threats.

The operation took down three suspects in Cameroon for involvement in an online art scam, which defrauded customers up to an estimated $850,000 using counterfeit artworks. An individual in Nigeria was apprehended for tricking a victim from Gambia, illustrating the borderless nature of these crimes.

Intriguingly, the operation also nabbed two individuals known as 'money mules,' who were involved in fraudulent activities initiated through various messaging platforms. As the digital landscape evolves, so does the mode of operation for these cybercriminals.

The haul from the operation includes the detection of 3,786 command-and-control (C2) servers, 14,134 IPs connected to data stealing operations, 1,415 phishing oriented domains and links, 939 scam IP addresses, and an excess of 400 harmful URLs, botnets, and IPs. Notably, the operation also led to the shutdown of two prominent dark web sites.

Among INTERPOL's private partners in this operation was Group-IB. They contributed by identifying several domains, URLs, and server IP addresses suspected of being used for phishing and malware attacks, reinforcing the integral role played by private cybersecurity firms in these endeavors.

This operation builds upon the legacy of the first Africa Cyber Surge operation, initiated in July 2022. This equally monumental operation resulted in the arrest of 11 individuals, the dismantling of a dark web marketplace specializing in the sale of hacking tools, and the uncovering of an immense sum of 200,000 items of malicious infrastructure.

These two operations clearly highlight the growing concern in regard to cybercriminal activity in Africa and the urgent need for a continued, coordinated approach to effectively curb these threats.

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