• Though poor network services persist 

•Over 10,000 subscribers change operators in search of better offers 

•NCC tackles cybercriminals, tips off stakeholders

By Prince Osuagwu, Hi-Tech Editor

Despite the poor telecom services which trailed subscribers from 2021 yuletide till now, trends from the information and Communications Technology industry in January 2022 have shown that the sector is alive to its responsibilities of calibrating the Nigerian economy. 

In the last quarter of 2021, subscribers lamented poor telecom services, ranging from weak Internet connections, low Internet speed, dropped calls and weak signals among others.

According to statistics from the telecom regulator, the Nigerian Communications Commission, NCC, while majority of subscribers couldn’t do anything about their situations, over 10,000 others scrambled from one network to the other in search of a better service.

Statistics of porting activities obtained from the commission in the months of September, October, November and December 2021 shows that while about 2,487 subscribers changed networks in September, 2,258, 3,697 and 1,828 subscribers, changed networks in October, November and December respectively.

This spurred porting activities in the sector to about 10270 movements.

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However, compared to the same period in 2020 when 19,412, 19,771, 16,342 and 4,085 subscribers respectively, changed networks, it could be said that the industry is tremendously improving. 

Apparently as a proactive measure towards strengthening the parameters of the sector the NCC has released two separate warnings to individual and corporate entities against attempts by cyber fraudsters to attack the economy.

The Commission says it has resolved to counter the destructive measures of cybercriminals by activating the Nigerian Computer Emergency Response Team, ngCERT of its New Media and Information Security Department.

New SMS-based Android Malware 

The Commission, as a way of keeping the industry safe, has warned Nigerians of a new high-risk, critical and Short Messaging Service, SMS-based malware, called TangleBot. The malware infects Android mobile devices.

The Commission said that TangleBot employs more or less similar tactics as the recently-announced notorious FlutBot SMS Android malware which targets mobile devices.  

It noted that TangleBot equally gains control of the device but in far more invasive manner than the FlutBot malware.

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

NCC explains: “TangleBot Android malware 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.

“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 initiate the malware configuration process.

“The immediate consequence to this is that TangleBot gains access to several different permissions when installed on a device, allowing it to eavesdrop on user communications”. 

Tips to stay safe

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

“These measures include an advisory to telecom consumers and other Internet users to refrain from opening Uniform Resource Locators, URLs, from unknown sources while using your mobile devices.

“Additionally, telecom consumers should never respond or send reply to messages or call back a phone number that is associated with the text that they are unaware of.  

“Should any telecom consumer or Internet user become curious and wish to ascertain the authenticity of any call or messages and wish to probe the incident, such persons may do a web search of both the number and the message content.

Also, NCC has revealed two new ways hackers steal information through phone charging and Facebook platforms.

According to the Commission’s Cyber Security Incident Response Team, CSIRT, “the first is described as Juice Jacking, which can gain access into consumers’ devices when charging mobile phones at public charging stations.  

“The other is a Facebook for Android Friend Acceptance Vulnerability, which targets only Android Operating System.”

NCC said that many public spaces, restaurants, malls and public trains that offer complementary services to their customers in a bid to enhance customer services, are easy places to subscribers can get attacked.

Several industry experts have hailed the commission for starting the year on a high for stakeholders in the sector, urging the NCC to maintain the momentum in line with using the sector to steady the economy.

An industry practitioner, Engr Abel Eneh said: “The NCC has shown that it is capable of using the telecom sector to give the Nigerian economy mainstay.

“The statistics it keeps releasing and the instant updates, especially against cybercrimes is innovative and akin to what makes developed economies thick. I just wish it will sustain the momentum,” he added.

Vanguard News

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