The digital divide gap over the years gets narrower and Cameroon isn’t left behind. Since the technological revolution made ICTs impossible-to-do-without, social media, which was initially introduced to connect people from all over the world with each other, has turned into an addiction and a fake news distribution agency.
Parallelly, crime waves in Cameroon have also embraced these tech innovations. Five individuals, including a woman, hacked the orange phone number of the governor of the West region, Awa Fonka Augustine. The governor issued an alert on May 27, last year, in a communique, pleading with anyone who receives orange calls or any other demand from the number to ignore them and alert security forces.The joint effort of the gendarmerie legion and other organs of national security led to the arrestment of the five suspects about three weeks after investigations were launched.
A year ago, around the same period, two people were arrested in connection with Cameroon’s elections management body, ELECAM, Facebook page hack. As a result, the social media covers of the latter have been hibernated for almost 12 months. It was found that the hackers used the ELECAM’s social media pages to affirm that Maurice Kamto, the president of the political party Cameroon’s Renaissance Movement, was indeed the winner of the 2018 Presidential Elections. The two suspects who were arrested were released after a while. Without any further information or explanation, the general manager later assured the population that everything was now under control.
Under the Cameroon law, people found guilty of cybercrimes might face a sentence of five to ten years in prison. This is a solemn call to every Cameroonian to watch out as cybercrime waves are booming and start adopting effective cybersecurity measures because the next victim could be any one of us. Protecting yourself is protecting all those you know and care for.
It all starts with a little mistake we all commit on a daily basis, like clicking on any random link telling you about winning unlimited data, scholarships, or giveaways. Be careful about what you click on and share on social media, especially links, pictures, or videos. They might have embedded trojan horses, which makes you and your surroundings vulnerable.
Nowadays, social engineering has been the most popular information gathering tool prior to launching cyber-attacks. It is more of a psychological approach to collect sensitive information and credentials about an organisation or an individual without him noticing what’s actually going on. This technique is very effective and successful because most employees or people aren’t even aware that it exists.Employers should get their workers trained and aware of security flaws, data protection and cybersecurity.
Phishing, which is one of the major tools of social engineering, is the process where a hacker pushes you to enter your personal information like credentials or bank account details on a fake version of a genuine site. Be careful when you click on shortened links or links starting with ‘http’ instead of ‘https’.
Another booming cybercrime is scamming, the fundamental source of income for sugar daddies in some parts of Cameroon. Recently, the IP address of a fake e-commerce website claiming to sell cats was traced and found to originate from Cameroon. The main targets of scammers are e-commerce platforms and their users. Cybercriminals want either access to your account and the ability to purchase items or access to your credit card—both of which can cause you financial harm. A typical ploy could be to notify users there is a problem with their accounts or payment methods, tricking the victims into resubmitting their personal information to try to solve the issue.
A lot of similar cases have been registered with orange money and MTN mobile money accounts. We have seen cases of people who were tricked into sending up to 500 000 FCFA to a person claiming to work at a network provider, so as to unlock a bonus they apparently might have won; a car, money, to name a few.
A similar situation happens when you suddenly receive a call from an apparently desperate man telling you he has mistakenly sent money to your mobile money account. A very human reaction after receiving such calls is to check your account balance, but mind me, hold on! What happens is that the hacker is somewhere in your vicinity with an SSID tracker connected to your phone in some way or the other. As you type your secret code, he gets it. The common trend is that they will try as much as possible to waste a lot of time on the phone with you. While you are asking them questions trying to figure out if it is genuine and legit, the attack has already been launched as you will be connected to the same digital line.
Carding, which is mostly a thread for international security, is also becoming insanely popular. Cameroon might not be significantly affected by this cybercrime because the e-commerce revolution is still pending. What happens here is that the perpetrator steals credit card numbers from e-commerce sites, makes sure they are operational, and transfers the funds to pre-paid credit cards or uses them to buy gift cards. The victims of these attacks are growing exponentially, primarily due to unawareness and lack of appropriate measures implemented prior to cybersecurity. Until it happens to you, then you will understand why you should consider protecting yourself and creating awareness of cybersecurity in your surroundings. But why should you learn the hard way when you can start protecting yourself now? It could be you...
Join a cybersecurity community and get your back covered. The eOfbit (end of file bit) society, is a cybersecurity community which has up to 8000 members worldwide, focuses on creating awareness of the latest security flaws with effective cybersecurity measures for self-protection, sharing knowledge and resources to create a moral army of ethical hackers. This community, the first of its kind in Cameroon, also prepares cyber security enthusiasts to get EC Council certifications. The community is also on Facebook and YouTube under the name tag @endOfilebitsociety.