Telecoms carriers in Bangladesh come under coordinated cyberattacks every month, indicating their diluted network communications and showing their utter vulnerabilities to such malware infections.
But who pays the price for it? It is the end users-the gullible subscribers who are the ultimate payers.
Terming cyberattacks outrageous, the Bangladesh e-Government Computer Incident Response Team (BGD e-Gov CIRT) reports that Grameenphone, Robi Axiata, Banglalink and Teletalk have had a significant rate of malware infection.
Bangladesh has witnessed major cyberattacks frequently in public and private organisations in recent times.
In 2021, at least 147 public and private organisations, including banks and non-bank financial institutions, came under attack, showing their utter vulnerabilities, according to the BGD e-Gov CIRT.
Grameenphone, which has the most customers, has 47 unique counts of malware infection, led by 'android.hummer' virus, which has a 24.4-per cent infection rate.
Robi comes second with 40 unique counts of infection, led by 'avalanche-andromeda' virus, reads the report.
Banglalink is the third with 31 unique counts of infection by 'android.hummer' and 'avalanche-andromeda' both prominent viruses.
Teletalk, having least subscribers, has also 31 unique counts of infection with 'android.rootnik', 'android.backdoor.prizmes' and 'virut' having about equal shares of infection rate together with 'android.hummer' and 'avalanche-andromeda'.
Tree map shows the infection rate of most prominent malware in all four operators, according to the report.
The government formed the BGD e-Gov CIRT under post, telecoms and ICT ministry after the central bank's reserve heist incident.
Tarique M Barkatullah, director (data centre) at Bangladesh Computer Council, suggests that the regulator BTRC take stern action against operators as customers become victims of their weak systems.
Because of their contaminated bandwidth, 300-400 debit and credit cardholders are facing cyber attacks and becoming losers financially per month, he tells the FE.
Bandwidth is the blood of network communication. If bandwidth is attacked, overall services get disrupted, he explains.
Customers' precious data is being stolen for such infected bandwidth of operators, Mr Barkat continues.
According to a BTRC-posed statistic, which was last updated in June 2022, Bangladesh has approximately 184.45-million mobile phone subscribers.
It has only denoted that the biometrically-verified subscribers who have any activity (voice/data/SMS) at least once in the preceding 90 days.
The BGD e-GOV CIRT report has been prepared by aggregating the first quarter's acquired data for 2022 from threat intelligence sources, peer organisation feeds and OSINT assessments.
The agency conducted NO penetration testing attempts without well-established rules of engagement for the affected network owners.
Identified IOCs (indicator of compromises) were cross-examined by threat intelligence unit researchers for further verification to achieve 'true positives'.
Mr Barkat alerts users to be cautious when an email directs them to enter any kind of credentials.
He further suggests that the operators must enhance their capability to combat the growing number of cyber threats.
Syeed Zahid Hossain, head of ICT at Jamuna Bank Limited, says the capacity of network communication should be enhanced and made state-of-the-art to perfectly cater to increased end-users.
The telecoms regulator should play a greater role in enhancing the net to protect customers, he adds.