Hackers have drained Airtel Mobile’s systems in Uganda of nearly Ush 8 billion ($2.1 million) after using malware to force AMCUL’s software to approve transactions.
The cyber theft happened on October 28 and affected a number of banks and microfinance deposit-taking institutions in Uganda.
Through one of Airtel Money’s clients, a betting organisation whose name has been withheld, the hackers were able to access the company’s computer systems.
The betting platform is used by gamblers to load virtual bet slips with money from their Airtel or MTN mobile money accounts. Hackers launched a black box assault; they used the platform as a gateway to Airtel’s mobile money central system and triggered it to dispense money.
Apparently, 1,840 registered and preregistered SIM cards were prepared for big withdrawals, but the hack was stopped after transactions were completed on 1,800 of the cards.
The Cyber and Counter Electronic Measure Desk at the Criminal Investigations Directorate (CID) in Kampala received a formal complaint from one of the impacted microfinance institutions. It is still carrying out investigations.
Airtel Uganda, however, has released a statement insisting that its platform is secure and reliable and that the hack did not impact any Airtel Money or bank balances.
This continues a pattern of rising cyberattacks in the nation and across the entire continent. Last year, it was estimated that hackers stole $4 million from banks in Uganda. Seeing how $2.1 million was lost in this one heist, the estimate for this year might top last year’s.