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Group-IB Helps INTERPOL-led Africa Cyber Surge II Operation Leading to Arrests of 14 Suspects

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Group-IB has made a key contribution to the INTERPOL-led Africa Cyber Surge II operation, a major joint initiative between international and national law enforcement agencies and private sector cybersecurity companies to prevent, mitigate, and disrupt threat actors on the African continent. The Africa Cyber Surge II operation, which spanned 25 African countries, resulted in the arrests of 14 suspected cybercriminals and the identification of more than 20,000 suspicious cyber networks linked to financial losses in excess of $40 million.

The Africa Cyber Surge II operation was launched in April 2023 and was carried out with funding by the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the German Federal Foreign Office and the Council of Europe. This multinational, streamlined crime-fighting initiative brought together INTERPOL, AFRIPOL, Group-IB, and Uppsala Security to provide on-the-ground operational support and share actionable intelligence on cyber extortion, phishing, business email compromise, and online scams.

This intelligence was subsequently shared with national law enforcement agencies on the African continent, leading to the arrest of 14 suspects in countries such as Cameroon, Nigeria, and Mauritius, and the takedown of hundreds of malicious IP addresses and malware hosters. Additionally, the educational track of this operation saw parties share best practices on how to combat the surge in digital insecurity and growing cyber threats in the region.

Group-IB, a long-standing private sector partner of INTERPOL, collected and shared at the request of INTERPOL more than 1,000 indicators drawn from the company’s sector-leading Threat Intelligence related to malicious infrastructure across Africa. The data contained domains, URLs, and server IP addresses used in phishing and malware attacks. INTERPOL member countries in Africa leveraged this information in several takedown operations.

Africa Cyber Surge II also had knowledge sharing at its core. During operational activities held in Tanzania In June, Group-IB’s Deputy Head of APAC High-Tech Crime Investigation Department, Kristina Ivanova, shared expertise on techniques to tackle business email compromise scams, phishing and online fraud, and also contributed to a panel discussion on the importance of public-private sector partnerships in tackling cybercrime. Group-IB experts also assisted national law enforcement agencies on the African continent via a series of practical workshops dedicated to the analysis of real cybercrime cases.

“Group-IB is proud of its contribution to fighting against cybercrime in Africa, and we do this in order to protect organizations and citizens across the whole globe against cybercrime through our intelligence-driven technology and agile expertise,” Dmitry Volkov, CEO at Group-IB, said. “The Africa Cyber Surge II is yet another milestone with regard to cooperation between international law enforcement, national agencies, and private sector cybersecurity companies. Collaboration and intelligence sharing should be at the heart of cybersecurity operations, and Group-IB stands ready to make a further contribution to this end, in line with our core strategic mission of fighting against cybercrime in all its forms.”

“The Africa Cyber Surge II operation has led to the strengthening of cybercrime departments in member countries as well as the solidification of partnerships with crucial stakeholders, such as computer emergency response teams and Internet service providers. This will further contribute to reducing the global impact of cybercrime and protecting communities in the region,” said Jürgen Stock, INTERPOL Secretary General.

“As digital systems, Information Communication Technologies and Artificial Intelligence grow in prominence, it is urgent that public and private actors work hand in hand to prevent these technologies from being exploited by cybercriminals. Coordinated operations such as Cyber Surge are necessary to disrupt criminal networks and build individual, organizational and society-wide levels of protection,” said AFRIPOL’s Acting Executive Director, Ambassador Jalel Chelba.

This most recent initiative follows in the wake of the highly successful Africa Cyber Surge operation, launched in July 2022, which was aimed at identifying cybercriminals and compromised infrastructure in Africa. During this four-month operation, Group-IB provided key cyber threat intelligence that aided cooperation between INTERPOL’s Cybercrime Directorate, ISPA, AFRIPOL, and INTERPOL’s African member states. Some of the operation’s highlights included the arrest of 10 suspects linked to fraud and scams amounting to $800,000 in financial damages and the takedown of more than 200,000 pieces of malicious infrastructure.

Group-IB, which has a zero-tolerance policy to cybercrime, has been an official private sector partner of INTERPOL since 2017, and the company has participated in multiple crime-fighting initiatives on the African continent, including Falcon I and II, Delilah, and Lyrebird. In July 2023, Group-IB played a key role in the INTERPOL-led Operation Nervone, an initiative aimed at disrupting the activities of the notorious cybercriminal group dubbed OPERA1ER by Group-IB (also known as NXSMS, DESKTOP-Group, and Common Raven).

This joint operation was launched under the guises of the African Joint Operation against Cybercrime (AFJOC) and the INTERPOL Support Programme for the African Union (ISPA), in conjunction with AFRIPOL, the Direction de L’information et des Traces Technologiques (DITT), Group-IB and the Orange CERT Coordination Center (Orange-CERT-CC) led to the arrest of a suspected leader of the cybercrime syndicate in Côte d’Ivoire.

Cyber Security

Netskope Joins Google Workspace Security Alliance

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Netskope has joined the Google Workspace Security Alliance to extend security and data protection for Workspace users. The Netskope One Platform provides a number of advanced security capabilities that protect data, defend against threats, and ensure users have fast and secure access to Google Workspace productivity and collaboration tools, including Gemini for Workspace.

As organizations increasingly adopt cloud technologies to drive innovation and efficiency, they are also challenged to secure sensitive data from a range of cyber risks, including:

  • Ongoing increases in the number of users uploading sensitive data to personal instances of cloud applications
  • New and evolving threat techniques such as abuse of certain applications for critical data access, back doors, and financial gain; compromise of credentials to access critical business data; insider threats; and more
  • Data exposure from the insecure use of both managed and unmanaged AI-based productivity tools

Netskope and Google Workspace empower organizations to embrace modern collaboration and productivity by enabling the secure use of AI-based productivity tools. Netskope provides advanced data loss prevention (DLP) techniques, delivering real-time visibility and control over users, data, and corporate vs. personal cloud instances. In addition, Netskope’s comprehensive threat protection through both API and inline controls detects threats in Google applications and monitors data movement and threat propagation between Google Workspace apps and third-party ecosystem applications.

“Netskope is proud to expand its partnership with Google Workspace by joining the Workspace Security Alliance. There are already thousands of customers using Netskope to safeguard their Google Workspace applications, and this new partnership further enhances the secure usage capabilities for application specific data protection policies,” said Andy Horwitz, VP, Global Partner Ecosystems, Netskope. “Together, Netskope and Google Workspace can help customers modernize their productivity stack. We look forward to helping customers safely optimize their employees’ daily productivity.”

The Netskope and Google Workspace partnership enables organizations to embrace collaboration and productivity while safeguarding critical data. Joint customers can now more effectively:

  1. Support best practice use of Gemini for Google Workspace: Leverage real-time user coaching to help enforce best practices in application usage. Organizations can gain visibility into data movement to minimize sensitive information sharing while achieving data compliance objectives.
  2. Protect sensitive data: Detect and manage access to sensitive data within Google Workspace applications, enforcing policies to prevent unauthorized data movement across platforms, including third-party services like Microsoft OneDrive, Box and Dropbox.
  3. Stop insider threats like data exfiltration: Prevent the download of sensitive data from Google Workspace business instances and then the upload to personal instances, which is one of today’s top reasons for data loss. Additionally, apply this control to unmanaged devices: allow unmanaged or personal device access to a specific cloud app for collaboration, however, do not allow downloading of sensitive data.
  4. Detect and stop elusive threats and malware: Protect against malware and phishing delivered from the cloud. Netskope’s multi-layered advanced threat protection (ATP) enhances security within Google Workspace and across cloud applications.
  5. Maintain compliance in Google Workspace: Ensure that organizations can adhere to regulations and meet compliance needs by enforcing security policies within Google Workspace.

“By partnering with Netskope, a leading SASE vendor, customers can confidently expand their Google Workspace adoption leveraging their existing IT infrastructure investments,” said Nikhil Sinha, Group Product Manager, Google Workspace. “Netskope instance awareness enables fine grained data governance policy differences to both corporate and personal Google Workspace accounts. We are excited to partner with Netskope to provide these advanced security capabilities to our customers.”

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Channel Talk

AmiViz and BitSight Join Forces to Elevate Middle East Risk Management

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AmiViz has partnered with Bitsight, a leading provider of cyber risk management solutions. This collaboration marks a significant step forward in bolstering cybersecurity capabilities across the region and facilitating Bitsight’s expansion efforts in the Middle East.

The partnership between AmiViz and Bitsight will enhance the cybersecurity landscape in the Middle East by introducing state-of-the-art solutions designed to tackle the evolving cyber threats confronting regional organizations. With both companies committed to improving cybersecurity awareness and resilience, they are set to pave the way for a safer and more secure digital environment in the region.

Commenting on the partnership with Bitsight, Ilyas Mohammed, COO at AmiViz said, “Our decision to onboard Bitsight demonstrates our commitment towards the evolution of the cybersecurity landscape in the Middle East. As organizations grapple with increasingly sophisticated cyber threats, the partnership between these two industry leaders promises to deliver enhanced value by equipping organizations with the tools and insights needed to effectively manage cyber risks and safeguard their digital assets in an ever-evolving threat landscape.”

Bitsight’s solutions can proactively assess and manage their cyber risk exposure and provide organizations with actionable intelligence to optimize their security investments, streamline vendor risk management processes, and enhance cyber resilience. With a focus on continuous monitoring and data-driven insights, Bitsight empowers organizations to make informed decisions and stay ahead of emerging cyber threats.

The Middle East has often been an attractive target for cyber-attacks, and this partnership will empower companies to address vulnerabilities and protect their digital assets proactively. By combining AmiViz’s deep understanding of the regional market dynamics with Bitsight’s cutting-edge technology and global expertise, the partnership will offer next-generation cybersecurity solutions tailored to the unique challenges and requirements of Middle Eastern organizations.

“We are proud to partner with AmiViz to transform the cyber risk management landscape in the Middle East,” said Xavier Artiguebieille, Senior Vice President, EMEA Sales at Bitsight. “Our combined efforts will equip organizations with the critical tools and intelligence needed to navigate and mitigate the complexities of modern cyber threats, enhancing their overall security and resilience.”

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Artificial Intelligence

ESET’s New AI Assistant Streamlines Threat Detection and Response

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ESET has introduced ESET AI Advisor, an innovative generative AI-based cybersecurity assistant that transforms incident response and interactive risk analysis. First showcased at RSA Conference 2024, the new solution is now available as part of the ESET PROTECT MDR Ultimate subscription tier and ESET Threat Intelligence.

Unlike other vendor offerings and typical generative AI assistants that focus on soft features like administration or device management, ESET AI Advisor seamlessly integrates into the day-to-day operations of security analysts, conducting in-depth analysis. Building on over two decades of ESET’s expertise in AI-driven endpoint protection, the offering provides detailed incident data and SOC team-level advisory. This is a game-changer for companies with limited IT resources who want to utilize the advantages of advanced Extended Detection and Response (XDR) solutions and threat intelligence feeds.

“As cybersecurity threats become increasingly sophisticated, ESET remains committed to providing cutting-edge solutions that address these challenges. The ESET AI Advisor module represents a significant leap forward in our mission to close the cybersecurity skills gap and empower organizations to safeguard their digital assets effectively,” said Juraj Malcho, Chief Technology Officer at ESET.

One of the primary benefits of this new solution is closing the cybersecurity skills gap. Security analysts of all skill levels can use ESET AI Advisor to conduct interactive risk identification, analysis, and response capabilities, which are provided in an easily understandable format. The user-friendly interface makes sophisticated threat data actionable even for less experienced IT and security professionals.

The ESET AI Advisor also excels in facilitating faster decision-making for critical incidents. Security analysts can simply consult the ESET AI Advisor to understand the specific threats their environment faces. Leveraging extensive XDR collected data, the ESET AI Advisor identifies and analyzes potential malware threats, providing intuitive insights into their behaviour and impact. It assists in recognizing phishing attempts and advising users on how to avoid falling victim to fraudulent emails or websites. By monitoring network traffic, the ESET AI Advisor can flag unusual or suspicious behaviour, helping security teams take appropriate action. Its ability to automate repetitive tasks is an additional advantage. Managing routine processes such as data collection, extraction, and basic threat detection, allows security teams to focus on more strategic initiatives.

In ESET Threat Intelligence, the new module will help researchers analyze vast quantities of unique APT reports and understand latest developments in world of cyber threats. With its conversational prompts and interactive dialogue, ESET AI Advisor empowers organizations to analyze and mitigate threats effortlessly and fortify their cybersecurity posture.

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