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The need for consumers to be extremely vigilant and protective when it comes to their online activities has once again been drawn to the fore with a recent research conducted by renownkn security brand, Kaspersky.
With growing digital adoption and individuals spending more time and carrying out more sensitive activities such as money transfer, the growing need for being online security consciousness is now more glaring.
According to the research, stalkerware affected one out of every 100 mobile users in Kenya and Nigeria in 2020 and malware every four out of 100 in South Africa.
“Even though these numbers might seem low, especially when it comes to stalkerware, it bears mentioning that this form of attack is focused on specific individuals. So, unlike general malware that is distributed on a massive scale, stalkerware is a more personal crime that has life and death consequences for the individual affected, for example a perpetrator can track down their estranged partner with ill intentions, or human trafficking rings targeting children,” says Lehan van den Heever, Enterprise Cyber Security Advisor for Kaspersky in Africa.
According to the cybersecurity and digital privacy company, stalkerware can enable perpetrators to track a victim’s location, read their messages, view their photos and videos, eavesdrop on telephone conversations and see everything being typed on the keypad.
“Our research shows that almost 54 000 users globally were affected by stalkerware apps in 2020. The fact that these are growing momentum in Africa should be cause for concern. And even though South Africa has not been affected by these attacks yet, it is only a matter of time before mobile users in the country start experiencing the dangers of stalkerware,” he says.
“Over and above the threat of stalkerware, our research shows that malware and adware, although again rather low, still remain cyberthreats that we urge users in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria to be cognisant of and protect against,” he adds.
According to the analysis of mobile threats in 2020 shows that in Kenya 7% of users were affected by malware, and 13% by adware. In Nigeria, the situation is similar, also showing that 7% of users were impacted by malware and 17% by adware. In South Africa, 4% of users were targeted with malware and 7% with adware.
What Can Users Do?
The security advisor says mobile users must protect their devices with a strong password and never leave their phones unattended.
Also. blocking the installation of apps from third-party sources on devices is another measure users must have in place.
Furthermore, he advocates the installation of a reliable antivirus solution that detects and warns them about stalkerware and other malware as well as never clicking on links in spam mails as ‘must dos.’