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SA, Kenya, Nigeria users: Beware malware hiding in your devices

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Kaspersky's most recent analysis of cyber attacks in SA, Kenya and Nigeria has revealed that users are more likely to face malware attacks hidden within their devices than while surfing the Web.

According to researchers from Kaspersky, these threats are classified as ‘local’, which means they are found on users’ devices or on portable data storage devices, such as flash drives.

Last year, 25% of Kaspersky's private users in SA, 40% in Kenya, and 38% in Nigeria, were attacked by threats of this nature. In comparison, Web attacks only affected 9% of users in SA, 11% in Kenya, and 8% in Nigeria.

In terms of corporate users in these regions, the numbers are similar: 23% of corporate users in SA, 29% in Kenya and 35% in Nigeria encountered local threats in 2020.

According to Kaspersky, there has been an increase in the sophistication of these threats, which may hide on the user’s device within a seemingly legitimate file for a while, to fly under the radar, and only strike later.

Denis Parinov, a cyber security expert at Kaspersky, says the cyber threat landscape across Africa is constantly evolving. “A few years ago, there were many more drive-by attacks – cases when different malicious software is downloaded and being run while the user simply browses the Internet.”

Nowadays, however, he says the majority of Web-threats “stay in browser”. They specialise in content replacement, browser locking or clickjacking, online-skimming, cookie stuffing, and suchlike.

The situation when a user could download a malicious file directly occurs infrequently. It’s more common for malware to be disguised as something else to evade security solutions, remaining an unseen threat to users, he explains.

“The good news, however, is that modern security solutions are too advanced for such malware to fly under the radar – it is more likely to be blocked either during the initial scan of the file by a security solution that happens by default, or within the very moment such programs attempt to launch.”

To protect against cyber threats including malware, Kaspersky recommends never opening dubious links in emails, IMs, or in SMSes, and to regularly install updates for operating system and applications. In addition, install applications only from official stores, use complex and different passwords for accounts, and regularly copy important data from devices to the cloud, to a USB flash drive or hard drive.

Finally, the company advises corporates to enforce the principles of least privilege by never giving users access to applications they do not need, and to install a reliable security solution.

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