Suspected Russian hackers have begun to target Nigerian websites, with Bet9ja falling as their first victim.
This is coming after the United States said it secretly removed malware from computer networks around the world in recent weeks, in its bid to pre-empt Russian cyber attacks.
The US said the move was necessary because of Russia’s plan to attack American critical infrastructure. It said the malware it removed enabled Russians to create ‘botnets’ — networks of private computers that are infected with malicious software and controlled by the G.R.U., the intelligence arm of the Russian military.
Bet9ja first announced that it was having issues with its website on Wednesday on its verified Twitter handle. According to the company, its customers were not able to login into their accounts.
It said, “We are currently experiencing an issue with our website. This means you may not be able to log in.
“We take this matter very seriously and our IT team is working on it as their number one priority right now.”
However, on Thursday, the firm announced that it had become a victim of a cyber-attack. Bet9ja said, “The Bet9ja betting platform, just like so many market-leading global organisations, has recently become a victim of a sophisticated criminal cyber-attack, which is restricting our customers from having access to the platform.
“We are working tirelessly with our IT team, independent forensics, and cybercrime experts to resolve this, we take this matter extremely seriously. Our priority is protecting our customers and you have our assurances that your accounts will not be compromised, and all your funds are safe.
“We apologise for this situation and once back online, we will reward our loyal customers with a truly sensational bonanza of promotions.”
In a previous post, the firm added that its customer’s funds are secured.
According to the Founder, e86 Limited, OluGbenga Odeyemi, Bet9ja’s attack is likely to become commonplace with other companies if proactive steps are not taken,
He said, “Yes, we are likely to see more of that. The US government sent out a notice/warning about a week or two ago about impending attacks from Russia in response to the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
“Every organisation must beef up their security at this time. If there are things they have been cutting back on, now is the time to fix those things. For organisations that have always kept their infrastructure up to date, this will be a good time to have regular internal checks and thorough penetration testing done on their infrastructure.
“My hope is that organisations won’t find out about attacks on their infrastructure when it’s too late to salvage anything.”
Odeyemi added that Nigerians should be worried about a likely increase in cyber attacks as it is likely to cripple the productivity of organisations.
The bank’s Group Managing Director, Kennedy Uzoka, said the firm’s business outside Nigeria had been doing well, as he specifically noted that its branch in the United Kingdom had witnessed remarkable expansion.
He said, “As from July 2021, UBA UK started making profit, and even to date, they are still doing well, and the same can be said for many of our African subsidiaries.
“The truth is that we are driven by the opportunities and potential in each of the geographies that we invested in, and we are happy with what we have achieved so far.”