Beware these 3 mobile threats in South Africa

 ·16 Oct 2021

Global cybersecurity company Kaspersky has warned of increased mobile malware attacks in South Africa over the past six months.

Out of the more than 206,000 mobile malware attacks blocked by Kaspersky solutions for the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region in just 6-months measured, between January to June 2021, over 30,000 of these attacks combined originated from Nigeria (14,071), Kenya (10,697), and South Africa (5,499).

Significantly, for African countries monitored, Nigeria only trails Egypt (19,466) by the number of attacks blocked, pointing to how prevalent mobile threats have become in this highly connected country.

Kaspersky’s latest research shows that when looking at the top 10 countries by share of users attacked by mobile malware Nigeria places eighth (at 11.76%). Even though Kenya and South Africa might not feature as prominently, the mobile malware threat is still a concern, along with the shift to more targeted based attacks these countries are seeing.

The top three most prevalent malware behaviours that Kaspersky has seen in South Africa are

  • Trojans;
  • Trojan-Proxy; and
  • Trojan-Downloaders.

A Trojan is a type of malware that is often disguised as legitimate software which attackers can use to try and gain access to user systems.

As the name suggests, Trojan-Downloaders download and install new versions of malicious programmes, including Trojans and Adware on victim computers. Meanwhile, Trojan-Droppers usually save a range of files containing malicious programmes to the victim’s drive, the security firm said.

Once installed, a Trojan-Proxy allows an attacker to use the infected device as a proxy to connect to the Internet.

“Mobile malware remains a significant threat for corporate and personal users across Africa. These attacks are usually very diverse with hackers leveraging a range of methodologies and technologies to compromise victims’ devices.

Trojan-Downloaders and Trojan-Droppers are especially dangerous given their potential to contain significantly damaging payloads,” said Bethwel Opil, enterprise sales manager at Kaspersky in Africa.

In addition to installing cybersecurity solutions on their mobile devices, there are a few additional ways users can enhance their security, including:

  • Create a strong password. By putting a strong password on their smartphone, the device can become unusable if it is lost or stolen and the password attempt fails a certain number of times.
  • Do not trust SMS. Mobile malware uses text messages, so users should never respond to requests for credit card details or other private information.
  • Check your browser for the lock symbol. The lock icon in the address bar indicates that the site is secure when entering personal data.
  • Install apps from reputable sources. Popular shopping sites such as Amazon or eBay have their own mobile applications. You must check to see they are the official apps from the company before you initiate a download.

Read: Here are the top 5 digital scams in South Africa to be aware of

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