Cyberattacks on govts rise as Nigeria, other countries count losses
• Russian hackers responsible for 29% of attacks
•Govt agencies record 616 attacks since 2005
Despite efforts globally and locally to curtail the rise in cyberattacks, a concerning trend is emerging on the global stage of sudden rise in cyberattacks targeting government agencies.
According to the data presented by the Atlas VPN team, in the first half of 2023, there were 49 significant cyber incidents concerning government agencies — a rise of 11 per cent from the same time last year. The attacks affected government bodies in at least 27 countries across the world.
The analysis is based on the information by the Centre for Strategic and International Studies, which keeps track of significant cyber incidents dating back to 2003.
This year, government agencies in the United States encountered the greatest number of attacks, with 16 per cent specifically aimed at the country.
In January 2023, the cybersecurity agency of the U.S. government issued a warning that financially motivated hackers had breached federal agencies using mate remote desktop software.
Meanwhile, in June, a series of US Federal Government agencies fell victim to a worldwide cyberattack orchestrated by hackers linked to Russia. Among the affected entities were the Department of Energy and the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. The cybercriminals exploited vulnerabilities in software extensively utilized by these agencies, as reported by a U.S. cybersecurity official.
The report noted that the extended conflict between Russia and Ukraine has also resulted in several cyber incidents against state government entities in the countries. In April 2023, cybersecurity experts from the National Security Agency of the U.S., reported instances of ransomware and supply chain attacks originating from Russia. The attacks were said to be aimed at Ukraine and several other European nations providing humanitarian aid during the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.
When it comes to potential perpetrators, Russian hackers are at the forefront, believed to be responsible for approximately 29 per cent of these attacks. Following closely are cybercriminals associated with China, accounting for 18 per cent, while Iran ranks third with 10 per cent.
Nigeria has not been an exemption when it comes to cyber-attacks. Earlier in the year, the former Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Pantami, disclosed that the Independent National Electoral Commission (INEC) server recorded more than 12 million attacks from both within and outside the country on February 25.
Indeed, the Atlas VPN report noted that government agencies accumulate and store a significant amount of sensitive data, such as personal information about individual citizens. This data can be sold on the dark web or held hostage until a ransom is paid, which makes these agencies an attractive target for cybercriminals.
Apart from monetary motives, roughly a quarter (12) of all cyberattacks targeting government agencies worldwide in 2023 can be attributed to state-linked threat actors engaged in cyber espionage campaigns. Additionally, hacktivist activity played a role, constituting approximately 10 per cent of the recorded incidents within the government sector during the first half of 2023.
The Atlas VPN team disclosed that since 2005, government agencies worldwide have experienced a total of 616 significant cyberattacks. It stressed that more than half of these — 56 per cent — occurred just in the last five years, including the first half of 2023.
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