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Concerns as cybercriminals unleash SMS-based Android malware on Nigerians

By Adeyemi Adepetun
31 January 2022   |   3:05 am
Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has alerted Nigerians on a new high-risk Short Messaging Service-based malware, TangleBot, infecting Android mobile devices.

Executive Vice Chairman/CEO, Nigerian Communications Commission, Prof. Umar Garba Danbatta.

Data services push MTNN revenue to N1.7tr in 2021, as the firm pays N669.2b taxes

Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has alerted Nigerians on a new high-risk Short Messaging Service-based malware, TangleBot, infecting Android mobile devices.

TangleBot employs more or less similar tactics as the recently announced notorious FlutBot SMS Android malware that targets mobile devices. TangleBot equally gains control of the device but in a far more invasive manner than FlutBot.

The disclosure was made in a recent security advisory made available to NCC’s New Media and Information Security Department by the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team (ngCERT).

TangleBot is installed when an unsuspecting user clicks on a malicious link disguised as COVID-19 vaccination appointment-related information in an SMS message or information about fake local power outages that are due to occur.

NCC explained that the aim behind both or either of the messages (on COVID-19 or impending power outages) is to encourage potential victims to follow a link that supposedly offers detailed information. Once at the page, users are asked to update applications such as Adobe Flash Player to view the page’s content by going through nine dialogue boxes to give acceptance to different permissions that will allow the malware operators to initiate the malware configuration process.

According to the commission, the immediate consequence is that TangleBot gains access to several different permissions when installed on a device, allowing it to eavesdrop on user communications. The malware then steals sensitive data stored on the device and monitors almost every user activity, including camera use, audio conversations, and location, among others.

Furthermore, the malware takes complete control of the targeted device, including access to banking data, and can reach the deepest recesses of the Android operating system.

“The NCC, therefore, wishes to, once again, urge millions of telecom consumers to be wary of such wiles of cybercriminals, whose intent is to defraud unsuspecting Internet users.”

To ensure maximum protection for Internet users in the country, ngCERT has offered a number of preventive measures to be taken by consumers.

They include an advisory to telecom consumers and other Internet users to refrain from opening Uniform Resource Locators (URLs) from unknown sources while using mobile devices.

MEANWHILE, MTN Nigeria Communications Plc (MTN) has declared a turnover of N1.7 trillion for the year 2021.

The MTN Group said it attained the new height after the number of its active data users surged by 1.7 million to 34.3 million, helping income from data sales increase by 55.3 per cent to N516 billion.

According to its audited financial results for the year ended December 31, 2021, the company is proposing a final dividend of N8.57 per 2 kobo ordinary shares for the period.

For the year under review, profit before tax stood at N436.7 billion, up by 46.1 per cent from the preceding year’s figure, while profit after tax accelerated 45.5 per cent to N298.7 billion, just as earnings per share was N14.67 as against N10.08 recorded in the corresponding period of last year.

Chief Executive Officer, MTN Nigeria, Karl Toriola, said: “We continue to deepen our contributions to society, in line with our priority to enhance shared value. During the year, our total contribution to the government, through direct and indirect taxes, was N669.2 billion, up 83.4 per cent, representing approximately 40 per cent of our total revenue.”

The firm said its mobile subscribers decreased by eight million to 68.5 million, but returned to positive net additions in Q4, 2021. It disclosed that the Earning before Interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) grew by 27.9 per cent to N877.1 billion.

MTNN cited an extension of its coverage areas for 4G services in October 2021, through December, as the catalyst for higher earnings from data. Relative to its figure for 2020, revenue for last year grew by 22.9 per cent.

The company’s net assets increased by N86.6 billion from N178 billion recorded as at December 2020 to N264 billion in the period under review, however, total assets stood at N2.26 trillion.