By Ossom Raphael
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has advised telecom consumers and other Internet users, particularly those using Android-powered devices to use trusted Antivirus solutions and update them regularly to their latest definitions.
This advice comes as the NCC’s Computer Security Incident Response Team (CSIRT) discovered a newly-hatched malicious software that steals users’ banking app login credentials on Android devices.
According to a security advisory from the NCC CSIRT, the malicious software called “Xenomorph”, found to target 56 financial institutions from Europe, has high impact and high vulnerability rate. The main intent of this malware is to steal credentials, combined with the use of SMS and Notification interception to log-in and use potential 2-factor authentication tokens.
A statement by Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs of the NCC said Xenomorph is propagated by an application that was slipped into Google Play store and masquerading as a legitimate application called “Fast Cleaner” ostensibly meant to clear junk, increase device speed and optimize battery. In reality, this app is only a means by which the Xenomorph Trojan could be propagated easily and efficiently.
To avoid early detection or being denied access to the PlayStore, “Fast Cleaner” was disseminated before the malware was placed on the remote server, making it hard for Google to determine that such an app is being used for malicious actions.
Once up and running on a victim’s device, Xenomorph can harvest device information and Short Messaging Service (SMS), intercept notifications and new SMS messages, perform overlay attacks, and prevent users from uninstalling it. The threat also asks for Accessibility Services privileges, which allow it to grant itself further permissions.
The statement further said the malware also steals victims’ banking credentials by overlaying fake login pages on top of legitimate ones. Considering that it can also intercept messages and notifications, it allows its operators to bypass SMS-based two-factor authentication and log into the victims’ accounts without alerting them.
“Xenomorph has been found to target 56 internet banking apps, 28 from Spain, 12 from Italy, 9 from Belgium, and 7 from Portugal, as well as Cryptocurrency wallets and general-purpose applications like emailing services. The Fast Cleaner app has now been removed from the Play Store but not before it garnered 50,000+ downloads,” the CSIRT security advisory asserted.
The Commission also implore consumers and other stakeholders to always update banking applications to their most recent versions.
NCC, FIRS inaugurate 17-man joint committee to enhance revenues in telecoms sector
The Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC) and the Federal Inland Revenue Service (FIRS) have taken their collaboration a bit further by setting up a Joint Committee of senior and management staff of the two agencies towards the implementation of inter-agency strategies for enhancing national revenues in the telecommunications sector.
The collaboration birthed the inauguration of 17-member committee by the NCC’s Executive Commissioner, Stakeholder Management, Adeleke Adewolu, on behalf of the Commission’s Executive Vice Chairman, Prof. Umar Danbatta, and the Executive Chairman of the FIRS, Mr. Muhammad Nami, at the NCC’s headquarters in Abuja.
The inauguration of the committee, comprising six officials of NCC and eleven officials of FIRS, was carried out with senior officials of NCC and those of the tax agency led by its Coordinating Director for Compliance Support Group, Dr. Dick Irri, who represented the FIRS’ Executive Chairman, Muhammad Nami at the event.
While inaugurating the Committee on behalf of the heads of the two agencies, Adewolu said the terms of reference of the Committee include: review the Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) signed between the NCC and the FIRS on June 9, 2020; and carry out inter-agency interaction on the implementation of the NCC’s Revenue Assurance System (RAS), to ensure that it incorporates the needs of FIRS to the extent that RAS can remain the sole interface with telecom service providers’ networks vis-à-vis the Tax Authority’s information needs from the telecoms sector.
On his part, Dr. Dick Irri, who led the FIRS delegation, advised the Committee to take the assignments very seriously.
Irri said: “I would like to task you to take this assignment as a national matter as we expect the two agencies to work in harmony, collaborate effectively and have a warm handshake that will make this synergy between the two agencies a great example of collaboration between Federal Government agencies towards enhancing fiscal governance in Nigeria”.
NIN: Government Orders Telcos To Bar Outgoing Calls On Unlinked SIMs
The Nigerian Government has directed telecommunication companie in the country to bar all outgoing calls on unlinked lines from Monday, April 4, 2022.
Unlinked lines are Subscriber Identity Modules (SIMS) not yet registered and linked with the National Identification Number (NIN) by users.
The government’s directive was announced in a statement jointly signed on Monday by the Director of Public Affairs at the Nigerian Communications Commission (NCC), Ikechukwu Adinde, and the Head of Corporate Communications at the National Identity Management Commission (NIMC), Mr Kayode Adegoke.
Over 125 million SIMs, according to the statement, have had their NINs submitted for linkage, verification, and authentication and NIMC has issued over 78 million unique NINs to date.
The government explained that NIN-SIM linkage had been extended on multiple occasions to allow Nigerians to freely comply with the policy.
It added that the enrolment for NIN was a continuous exercise as it was a precondition for service in telecommunication companies, banks, Nigerian Immigration Service, and several other government agencies.
According to the NCC, at least 72.8 million subscribers risk being disconnected from telecommunication services following the latest directive.
Data from the commission indicates that there are 197.8 million active telecom subscribers in Nigeria as of February 2022.
NCC Sets the Pace in FG’s Indigenous Tech Development Policy
…Showcases sponsored prototypes
By Ossom Raphael
TheNigerian Communications Commission (NCC) has given concrete expression to the Federal Government’s drive to promote indigenous innovative technologies in Nigeria’s telecommunication sector.
The Commission demonstrated this when it organised the maiden prototype and research exposition aimed at showcasing no fewer than 10 prototypes, arising from its sponsored Telecommunications-Based Research Innovation Projects in the Nigerian universities.
The Commission selected 10 prototypes for exhibition as outputs of its telecom research project during the two-day event that took place at the NCC’s Communications and Digital Economy Complex in Abuja.
A statement by Ikechukwu Adinde, Director, Public Affairs of the NCC, listed the top 10 prototypes to include: Multiple operators’ enabled SIM, GSM communication-based walking cane robot, Powerline communications module, Home-grown electrical power charger, Low-cost GSM telephone system, Wireless power transfer device, Vital sign monitor, Plastic optical fibre cable, Wearable E-band tracker, and a Software-based nomadic base station.
The Commission is implementing the research and prototype exposition as a way of encouraging the commercializing of the prototypes, as an influential platform for universities, professionals and industry experts to come together, share information and build long-lasting business relationships.
Speaking at the event, Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Prof. Isa Ali Ibrahim Pantami, said through the NCC’s telecoms-based research and prototype exposition, “the indigenous technological capabilities of Nigerians will be fully appreciated, harnessed, and utilised towards stimulating the overall productivity and sustainability of the telecommunications industry.”
Pantami emphasised that research is considered a necessary condition for the technological development of any nation and also regarded as the backbone of the communications industry, because it is the building block for the future development of advanced telecommunications products and services. He tasked the mobile network operators (MNOs) to work with NCC to support indigenous technology development to solve national challenges in future.
The Minister commended the Commission’s Board and Management for facilitating the delivery of the lofty policy targets contained in the National Policy for the Promotion of Indigenous Content (NPPIC) 2021. He also thanked the recipients of the Commission’s grants for the display of already developed prototypes for the knowledge of the industry stakeholders.
Speaking earlier, Chairman, NCC, Board of Commissioners, Prof. Adeolu Akande, declared that the Commission will continue to provide the enabling environment to bridge the gap in the significant tripartite relationship among the academia, industry, and the government. He encouraged participants to support NCC’s initiative to succeed, as businesses will emerge, and sustainable jobs will be available for our young graduates on account of this new developments.
On his part, the Executive Vice Chairman and Chief Executive of NCC, Prof .Umar Garba Danbatta, reinforced the Commission’s commitment to discharging its role as an active regulator to drive the indigenous content development component of the nation’s telecoms sector. The EVC reiterated the significance of building the indigenous technological capacities of Nigerians through partnerships with relevant stakeholders.
He said: “The Commission has awarded grants to successful academic institutions to develop Working Prototype and Telecommunications-led Products capable of addressing industry needs and providing overall sustainability, fully-developed and ready-for-the-first phase of market entry”, Danbatta stated.
“It is important to have a commercialisation strategy to transit from rudimentary research into the market to address the local challenges and reduce the over-dependence on imported innovations and technologies with the attendant drain on the nations scarce foreign exchange.. This is what this programme hopes to achieve to maximize the full potential of academia in contributing to the steady growth of the telecoms industry in Nigeria”.
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