Kaspersky, a cyber security and anti-virus provider, has raised the alarm over threats from stalkerware, warning mobile users in Nigeria and other African countries not to take them lightly.
The company stated on Thursday that its analysis of mobile threats in 2020 showed that in Nigeria, seven per cent of users were impacted by malware and 17 per cent by adware.
It added that in Kenya, seven per cent were affected by malware, and 13 per cent by adware, while in South Africa, four per cent were targeted with malware and seven per cent with adware.
“One out of every 100 mobile users in Kenya and Nigeria is affected by stalkerware,” Kaspersky stated.
Consumers must remain vigilant when it comes to their online activities, if they are to keep themselves safe from the growing threat of cyber attacks, the company further warned.
Enterprise Cyber Security Advisor for Kaspersky in Africa, Lehan van den Heever, said, though the numbers seem low, when it comes to stalkerware attacks, it 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,” Heever said.
He explained that among other things, stalkerware could enable the perpetrator to track a victim’s location, read their messages, view their photos and videos, eavesdrop on telephone conversations, and see everything 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 gaining momentum in Africa should be cause for concern.
“Even as 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,” Heever added.
According to him, Kaspersky has a solution to the stalkerware threats.
His words, “Above the threat of stalkerware, our research shows that malware and adware, although again rather low, still remain cyber threats that we urge users in South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria to be cognisant of and protect against.
“While we advocate that mobile users must protect their devices with a strong password, they should also never leave their phones unattended. Further, it is important to block the installation of apps from third party sources in their device settings and instal a reliable mobile anti-virus solution that detects and warns them about stalkerware and other malware. Lastly, do not click on links in spam e-mails.”
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