Among the most prevalent mobile threats that were detected in the Middle East, Turkiye and Africa region are adware and mobile banking threats.
Africa has become one of the hotspots of mobile cyber threats in the world, according to new research published Thursday by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity and digital privacy company. The report indicates that threats to mobile devices increased in the second quarter of 2023.
Among the most prevalent mobile threats that were detected in the Middle East, Turkiye and the African region are “adware and mobile banking threats.”
There was a significant rise particularly in adware detections: 94 per cent in Nigeria, 49 per cent in Turkiye, 27 per cent in South Africa, 39 per cent in Kenya, and 6 per cent in the Middle East.
Meanwhile, banking trojans, which are used to hunt for data related to online banking and e-payment systems, are another concerning threat for mobile users. Specifically, Turkiye saw a twofold increase (102 per cent) in Trojan-Banker detections in Q2 2023 compared to Q2 2022, the report said.
While users increasingly rely on their mobile devices to share personal data and connect to corporate networks, the report noted that the number of mobile threat detections particularly in Africa, the Middle East, and Turkiye increased by 5 per cent.
However, it stated that these threats were blocked by Kaspersky Mobile Solutions. The researchers said a total of 5.7 million mobile malware, adware, and riskware attacks were blocked.
“With the growing adoption of smartphones and mobile banking in the Middle East, Turkiye, Africa region, cybercriminals are likely to further increase their targeting of mobile devices,” said Anton Kivva, Malware Analyst and Team Lead at Kaspersky.
“We can expect a surge in phishing attacks, mobile malware, and malicious apps disguised as legitimate financial services. Cybercriminals will continue to exploit social engineering tactics, such as SMS phishing and voice phishing, to trick mobile users into revealing sensitive information or downloading malicious content,” he said.
The most common threat to mobile devices was potentially unwanted software (RiskTool). The company said 30.8 per cent of all RiskTool threats were detected.
It added that a “total of 370,327 malicious installation packages were detected, of which: 59,167 packages were related to mobile banking Trojans while 1,318 packages were mobile ransomware Trojans.”
Threats statistics in the reports were more prevalent on Android devices which hold a dominant market share in the Middle East, Africa, and Turkiye. Apple devices are not immune to cyber threats but are difficult to monitor due to OS specifics, the researchers said.
“Individuals and organisations in the Middle East, Turkiye, and Africa should prioritise mobile cybersecurity measures, including robust antivirus software, regular updates, user education, and vigilance against social engineering tactics to safeguard their mobile devices and sensitive data,” Mr Kivva said.
To protect yourself from mobile threats, Kaspersky recommends downloading apps only from official stores like Apple AppStore, Google Play or Amazon Appstore.
“Apps from these markets are not 100 per cent failsafe, but at least they get checked by the moderators and there is some filtration system — not every app can get onto these stores. It’s worth looking through user reviews of an app to see if there is any negative feedback on its functionality,” the organisation said.
It also advised individuals to check the permissions of apps that they use and think carefully before permitting an app, especially when it comes to high-risk permissions such as Accessibility Services.
“A reliable mobile security solution like Kaspersky Premium can help you to detect malicious apps and adware before they start behaving badly on your device. Also, update your operating system and important apps as updates become available. Many safety issues can be solved by installing updated versions of software.”
The organisation called on the mobile industry to enhance cyber protection at all levels, including security for users, by providing tailored cybersecurity services.