Members of Nigeria’s largest cybercrime gang arrested

Members of Nigeria’s largest cybercrime gang arrested

One of the largest Nigerian cybercrime gangs, SilverTerrier, has been busted by the international police support organization, Interpol. In December, 11 members were arrested, Interpol reported Wednesday.

SilverTerrier attacked some 50,000 individuals and companies through business email compromise (BEC). The hacker group is one of the most successful BEC fraudsters. For example, the computers of the 11 suspects already contain more than 800,000 usernames and passwords. All of these credentials could have been used to hack into corporate email accounts.

One of the suspects also turned out to be keeping up with contacts between 16 companies and their customers. In this way, he could deduce how legitimate transactions went, in order to imitate this as well as possible during the fraudulent emails.

Craig Jones, the leader of Interpol’s cybercrime division, said: “Interpol is on the trail of gangs like SilverTerrier. As long as the investigations continue, we will get a very clear picture of how such groups function and what they do for financial gain. We know where and who to focus on now.”

Help from cybersecurity company

Cybersecurity firm Palo Alto Networks helped Interpol track down SilverTerrier. The company has been following all BEC fraud of the Nigerian hacker group for some time and has already identified about 500 members. Links were also found between more than 120 of these members via various social media platforms.

In a blog post shared with Forbes before publication, Palo Alto states that the SilverTerrier investigation was different from normal Interpol investigations. The research did not focus on the obvious money mules or (Instagram) influencers who often profit from fraud. Interpol, on the other hand, focused on the technical side of the BEC fraudsters by identifying individuals who have the knowledge and skills to create and distribute malware.

The cybersecurity company also reports that one of the suspects was also approached by the FBI in 2018. “His recent arrest makes him the first Nigerian hacker to have been arrested twice for BEC fraud.”

How BEC Fraudsters Operate

BEC fraud often starts through phishing. A phishing email is sent to someone’s company email. When this email account is compromised, the hackers analyze the correspondence.

The hacker turns on a special filter so that the interesting emails with payment details go directly to the fraudster’s email address. As a result, the company does not receive the e-mail or cannot see it. SilverTerrier also worked in this way.

However, SilverTerrier is not the only Nigerian BEC fraud group. In 2019, Nigerian parties were measured to have developed more than 81,300 types of malware. This malware is now linked to 2.1 million hacks.

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