Steady decline of mobile malware in Africa

Steady decline of mobile malware in Africa

There has been a steady decline in attacks on mobile devices in various African countries, as cybercriminals consolidated their efforts to focus on more complicated, dangerous and profitable threats instead.

This is according to the Kaspersky Mobile Threats in 2021 report, which revealed these and other findings.

The report notes that overall, in 2021, South African users faced 38% less mobile malware attacks than in 2020, while other countries in the region have seen even more dramatic changes of their mobile threat landscape: Mozambique saw a 48% decrease, followed by Botswana (58%), Nigeria (59%), Ethiopia (69%) and Ghana (76%).

The only countries where the share of attacks increased was Angola, where mobile malware actually grew by 12%.

This dynamic is a reflection of the global trend, as cybercriminals tend to invest less and less into the mainstream threats that are successfully neutralised by modern security solutions, says Kaspersky.

Instead, they choose to invest more into new mobile malware that has become increasingly complex, featuring new ways to steal users’ banking and gaming credentials, as well as other strands of personal data.

For instance, in 2021 Kaspersky detected more than 95,000 new mobile banking Trojans in the world, but the number of attacks using such malware remained similar. Additionally, the share of Trojans – malicious programs capable of executing remote commands – doubled, reaching 8.8% in 2021.

In addition to the strategic changes on the mobile threat landscape, experts also attribute the overall decline of mobile malware in 2021 to the enormous wave of attacks seen at the beginning of lockdown in 2020 as users were forced to work from home.

That period also saw increased use of various video conferencing and entertainment apps, increasing the volume and spread of attack opportunities. Now that the situation has stabilised, cybercriminal activity declined as a result, says Kaspersky.

Commenting, Tatyana Shishkova, security researcher at Kaspersky said, “Indeed, there have been fewer mobile attacks in general, however, the attacks we are still seeing have become more complex and harder to spot. Cybercriminals tend to mask malicious apps under the guise of legitimate applications, which can often be downloaded from official app stores. On top of that, with mobile banking and payment apps becoming even more widespread, there is a higher chance of cybercriminals targeting these more actively.”

Read the full report looking into mobile threats in 2021 on Securelist.