Africa under siege by rising mobile threats

Rick Rogers, Regional Director, Africa at Check Point Software Technologies

As one of the fastest growing mobile markets in the world, Africa is a favorite for cybercriminals.

Even though the continent’s internet penetration was only 35.2% in December 2017, 19.2% behind the world average, cybercrime is a serious threat to countries in Africa.  It’s hardly surprising given that sub-Saharan Africa alone currently has a unique mobile subscriber penetration of 44%, expected to hit 52% in 2025.

The sheer economy of scale offered by mobile devices is incredibly appealing to cybercriminals. They are using every available opportunity to attack individuals and organisations through their mobile devices, including Apps, particularly because these devices are so popular, and people usually do not take as strict precautions when it comes to securing them as they would with their laptops for example.

  • Just in the past month, Checkpoint have discovered two major vulnerabilities related to mobile devices: Man-in-the-Disk: Checkpoint researchers discovered a new attack surface for Android apps exploiting a shortcoming in the way that Android apps use storage resources.
  • FakesApp: Our researchers discovered a vulnerability in WhatsApp that allows a threat actor to intercept and manipulate messages sent by those in a group or private conversation.

Kenya a prime target

It’s no surprise that mobile attacks are having a major impact on organisations is Kenya.  One of the key markets in Africa, Kenya is leading its peers when it comes to internet connectivity, with a penetration rate of 83%³. It is also the global leader in share of internet traffic coming from mobile devices, currently sitting at 83%. This is largely because Kenyans primarily access the internet through mobile phones.

Even though major malware like Ransomware, cryptominer, and banking trojans have had, and continue to have, a big impact, it is mobile attacks on Kenyan companies that are growing in prevalence. When comparing the impact of these attacks to the global market we find that Kenya averaged 25% – 35% higher between January and August this year, which is not to be taken lightly.

The evolving threat landscape

The current threat landscape has evolved into a much more aggressive beast. We are now experiencing Gen V (5th Generation) cyber-attacks which are characterised as large-scale and fast moving across multiple industries. These sophisticated attacks on mobile, cloud and various enterprise networks, easily bypass conventional defenses being used by most organisations today as they rely on older generations of security.

Given that African countries are a choice target for cybercriminals, we need to recognize the continent as an important region for growth and investment. It is therefore important for organizations across the continent to have greater access and direct services required to deliver unprecedented protection against current and potential attacks.

The need for local businesses to partner with security specialists that can help them remain one step ahead of the game is essential. Organizations can have access to security solutions like Check Point Infinity which enables enterprises to prevent Get V cyberattacks across mobile, cloud and various other enterprise networks.

Given the pace at which the cyber security industry operates, remaining future-focused is key. Security specialists such as Check Point are already focused on the next wave of attacks and ensuring that clients across Africa and the world can protect their organisations, their employees and their reputations in the ever-evolving space that is cyber security.

The writer is the Regional Director, Africa at Check Point Software Technologies

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