By Abubakar Yunusa
Kaspersky, a cybersecurity company, has warned that its security researchers have reported notifications of attacks on major banks in sub-Saharan Africa.
In a statement released on Thursday, Kaspersky, citing its research on mobile cyberthreat dynamics in the second quarter (Q2) of 2023, said threats for mobile devices are growing worldwide.
The firm said the number of mobile threats — especially for Android devices detected and blocked by Kaspersky in the Middle East, Turkiye, and Africa (META) region — increased by 5 percent in Q2 2023, compared to the same period last year.
According to Kaspersky, adware mobile malware made the highest attack on users by 62.65 percent in the quarter under review.
An ‘adware’ is software that displays unwanted (and sometimes irritating) pop-up adverts which can appear on your computer or mobile device.
“Given the ubiquity of mobile devices in Africa, recording such an increase is a cause for concern,” the statement reads.
“Among the most prevalent mobile threats that were detected in Africa are adware and mobile banking threats.”
In the report, Kaspersky revealed substantial adware detections in Q2 2023 with Nigeria topping the list of countries faced with the threat.
The report said there was a spike of 94 percent in Nigeria, 39 percent in Kenya, and 27 percent in South Africa.
“There was also a notable increase in the detections of mobile banking trojans in Q2 2023, which are used to hunt for data related to online banking and e-payment systems,” the firm added.
Commenting on the report, Bethwel Opil, enterprise client lead at Kaspersky in Africa, said there is a need to address the cyber threats.
“As Africa witnesses an upsurge in smartphone adoption, combined with the burgeoning trend of mobile banking, it’s imperative to address the inherent cybersecurity challenges that exist,” Opil said.
“The region, with its tech-savvy demographic and dynamic digital landscape, offers a fertile ground for cybercriminals to exploit and our research shows that cybercriminals are doing just that.
“This underscores the necessity for a forward-thinking and proactive approach to mobile cybersecurity for consumers and businesses alike. From banking malware targeting mobile transactions to ransomware hijacking device data, cybercriminals are continually evolving their tactics.
“Another cyberattack vector that we see cybercriminals focus on, and particularly in Africa, is outdated software.
“A considerable number of users in Africa make use of low-end or older mobile devices that may lack the latest security features and updates, making them more susceptible to mobile threats.
“Against this backdrop, it’s not just about implementing cybersecurity solutions on mobile devices but also about educating users on best practices and the rapidly changing threat landscape.”
In the statement, the cybersecurity firm also recommended ways users can reduce mobile threats.
Opil said mobile users should ensure that they download apps only from official stores like the Apple AppStore or Google Play.
“Regularly updating operating systems and apps. Being cognisant of app permissions (access to camera, microphone, photos, contacts, etc.),” he said.
“Implementing a trusted mobile security solution like Kaspersky Premium. Avoiding jailbreaking or rooting devices to benefit from automatic security updates.
“Mobile cybersecurity isn’t merely about deploying security software. It requires a holistic approach, blending technology, user education, and industry collaboration.”
Opil added that the firm is committed to strengthening Africa’s mobile cybersecurity landscape, ensuring that users can safely and confidently leverage the power of mobile technology.