The Africa Cyber Surge II operation has led to the take-down of rogue networks that were responsible for financial losses in excess of $40 million.

According to Interpol, the operation highlights the power of cooperation among international law enforcement, national authorities and private sector partners when it comes to proactively combating cyber crime.

Africa Cyber Surge II: What happened

In the four-month joint operation executed by Interpol and Afripol, more than 20,000 suspicious computer networks were shut down across 25 different African countries. At least 14 individuals have been apprehended.

In terms of the details, authorities took down two Cameroonian dark web sites, disrupted 615 Kenyan malware hosters, shut down 185 IP addresses in Gambia, arrested two money mules in Mauritius, and made a series of other arrests.

The cyber network included 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 and more than 400 additional malicious URLs, IPs and botnets.

The cyber criminal group’s “achievements” included fraudulent art sales worth $850,000.

Africa Cyber Surge II: Collaboration

This operation launched in April of this year and was led by Interpol’s Cybercrime Directorate under the Interpol Africa Cybercrime Operations desk. It also received assistance from Interpol’s Support Programme for the Africa Union. Private sector intelligence was used to isolate rogue networks and private sector groups also offered on-the-ground operational support.

“The Africa Cyber Surge II operation has led to the strengthening of cyber crime departments in member countries as well as the solidification of partnerships with crucial stakeholders, such as computer emergency response teams and Internet Service Providers,” said Interpol Secretary General Jurgen Stock.

Funding came from the UK Foreign Commonwealth and Development Office, the German Federal Foreign Office, and the Council of Europe. Continued collaboration will reduce the global impact of cyber crime and will help safeguard local communities.

“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 cyber criminals. Coordinated operations such as Cyber Surge are necessary to disrupt criminal networks and to build individual, organizational and society-wide levels of protection,” said Afripol’s Acting Executive Director, Ambassador Jalel Chelba.

Africa Cyber Surge II: Operational preparation

Ahead of time, some 150 Interpol intelligence reports were provided to specific countries where investigative and disruptive actions were due to occur.

The initiative was also preceded by a one-week tabletop exercise in Dar-es-Salaam, Tanzania. The exercise focused on equipping officials from 20 African countries with the knowledge and skills necessary for the successful execution of the operation.

Africa Cyber Surge II: Fraudulent actions 

This Africa Cyber Surge II operation mirrors a similar initiative completed in 2022, which resulted in the arrest of 10 suspected cyber criminals, the removal of an Eritrean dark web platform selling hacking tools, and the take-down of roughly 200,000 pieces of malicious infrastructure. 

Earlier this month, Interpol announced an effort to crackdown on West African organized crime groups like Black Axe. Thus far, authorities have made more than 100 arrests, seized more than 200 bank accounts connected with online crimes, and have seized roughly $2.3 million in assets. Persons from more than 20 countries were involved.

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