Mobile users warned of 104% increase in cyberthreats in South Africa

Mobile cyberthreats in South Africa, the Middle East, Türkiye and Africa increasing drastically. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Mobile cyberthreats in South Africa, the Middle East, Türkiye and Africa increasing drastically. Picture Courtney Africa/African News Agency (ANA)

Published Feb 22, 2024


Global cybersecurity and digital privacy company Kaspersky has warned mobile users to remain vigilant with upgrades and downloads as recent statistics revealed a 104% increase in mobile cyberthreats in South Africa.

At a recent Cybersecurity Weekend gathering, it was revealed that while mobile threats in the country had risen by 104%, other parts of the world, specifically the Middle East, Türkiye and the rest of Africa (Meta) as a whole had risen drastically as a result of the increased number of users becoming more reliant on their mobile devices.

Within the Middle East, mobile cyberthreats were said to have increased by 40%, in Türkiye by 120%, and in other African countries by 10%.

While the data was derived mainly from solutions running on android devices, due to the mobile OS’ dominance in the Meta market regions, the private cybersecurity company stressed that although it was difficult to monitor Apple devices, they too were also not immune to attacks.

They found that within the region the top five ‘baits’ used by cybercriminals positioned malware as WhatsApp or Chrome app mods, music downloaders, ad blocking software, and system apps upgrades, often leading mobile users to mistake these as the genuine apps while they only end up infecting their devices.

The most prevalent mobile threats detected were adware, spyware, and mobile banking trojans.

“Often, users may encounter malware when they install programs from unofficial sources, but sometimes malicious apps can be found in mobile marketplaces as well. Attackers use various baits to convince the victim to download a malicious app, which they now disguise as a useful or well-known application.

“In general, the functionality of trojans differs depending on the type of malware they belong to. Trojans can steal data from victims’ devices, add unwanted subscriptions, and extort money,” explained head of Kaspersky for Russia and CIS, Dmitry Galov.

Galov commented that while adware could behave in a seemingly harmless way, it could in most cases spam a user with ads, drain battery, or even get access to sensitive data.

Moreover he added that with a Trojan, which was most active in the region, data could be stolen from an infected smartphone, along with their list of contacts and user account information on the device and documents, and criminals could record from the device’s microphone upon command.

“In 2024, we believe that the number of advanced attacks on mobile devices will increase, as attackers are constantly looking for new ways to deliver malware, and the malware itself is becoming more sophisticated. It is also important to observe and analyse how the mobile cyberthreat landscape will change when it becomes possible to install applications from alternative stores on iOS, bypassing the App Store, without jail breaking.”

Although not 100% safe, the cybersecurity company advised mobile users to ensure that they only downloaded apps from official stores like Apple App Store, Google Play or Amazon App store; to check the permissions of apps that they used, especially when it came to high-risk permissions such as Accessibility Services; and to install a reliable mobile security solution to help detect malicious apps and adware before they start behaving badly on your device.

Lastly, mobile users should update their operating systems and important apps as and when updates become available.

The Star