Interpol Arrested 14 cybercriminals and 20,674 cyber networks

The recent Africa Cyber Surge II operation conducted by INTERPOL and AFRIPOL has revealed a stark reality – the surge in digital insecurity and cybercriminals threats across Africa. 

This operation spanned 25 African countries and successfully identified 20,674 suspicious cyber networks, leading to the arrest of 14 suspected cyber criminals. 

These networks were linked to financial losses exceeding USD 40 million. This article delves into the operational highlights, key findings, and significance of the Africa Cyber Surge II operation.

Operational Highlights

The four-month Africa Cyber Surge II operation, launched in April 2023, focused on identifying cybercriminals and compromised infrastructure. 

In collaboration with the INTERPOL Africa Cybercrime Operations Desk and AFRIPOL’s Support Programme, INTERPOL’s Cyber Crime Directorate orchestrated the operation. 

Africa Cyber Surge Operation

The primary aim was to streamline cooperation between African law enforcement agencies, fostering communication, analysis, and intelligence sharing to combat cyber threats effectively. 

This operation targeted cyber extortion, phishing, business email compromise, and online scams.

Operational successes were noted across participating countries:

  • Cameroon: Arrested three suspects in connection with an online scam involving fraudulent art sales worth USD 850,000.
  • Nigeria: Apprehended a suspect accused of defrauding a Gambian victim.
  • Mauritius: Arrested two money mules linked to messaging platform-initiated scams.
  • Gambia: Took down 185 malicious Internet Protocols (IPs) through proactive measures and strong partnerships.
  • Kenya: Successfully dismantled 615 malware hosters.

Key Findings and Analysis

The operation produced around 150 analytical reports, providing participating countries with crucial intelligence and insights. 

Developed by INTERPOL in collaboration with partners like Group-IB, Trend Micro, Kaspersky, and Coinbase, these reports highlighted:

  • 3,786 malicious command and control servers
  • 14,134 victim IPs linked to data stealer cases
  • 1,415 phishing links and domains
  • 939 scam IPs
  • Over 400 other malicious URLs, IPs, and botnets.

The significance of these findings underscores the undeniable link between financial crime and cybercrime. 

By adopting a “follow the money” approach, participating countries were able to expand their law enforcement responses. 

This approach enhances the effectiveness of cybercrime departments and solidifies partnerships with vital stakeholders, including computer emergency response teams and Internet Service Providers. 

The Africa Cyber Surge II operation serves as a clarion call for global cooperation to combat cybercrime and its far-reaching impact.

The success of the Africa Cyber Surge II operation was not a singular effort. 

It was preceded by a tabletop exercise in Tanzania, imparting essential skills and knowledge to officials from 20 African countries. 

As technologies like Information Communication Technologies and Artificial Intelligence continue to evolve, it is paramount for public and private entities to collaborate against cyber criminals. 

Coordinated operations like Cyber Surge are essential for disrupting criminal networks and ensuring comprehensive levels of protection.

Funding from the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the Council of Europe played a pivotal role in enabling this operation, further emphasizing the necessity of international support in tackling cyber threats.

The Africa Cyber Surge II operation stands as a testament to the evolving landscape of digital insecurity and cyber threats. 

The operation successfully identified and disrupted cybercriminal networks by fostering international cooperation, sharing intelligence, and adopting innovative strategies. 

This operation highlights the urgency for governments, law enforcement agencies, and private sector partners to collaborate proactively and effectively. 

As the digital realm continues to expand, operations like Africa Cyber Surge II pave the way for a more secure and interconnected future.

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