South Africa, Kenya and Nigeria have already seen millions of cyberattacks in 2020 with three months to the end of the year, according to Kaspersky security solutions.
In the three countries alone, between January and August 2020, at least 28 million malware attacks have occurred, and over 102 million detections of potentially unwanted programs such as pornware and adware have also been recorded.
In Nigeria, there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUAs detections – which is four times as much. PUA is an acronym for Potentially unwanted application.
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Kenyan and South African threat landscapes have been more intense. In South Africa, there were almost 10 million malware attacks and a staggering 43 million PUA detections. Kenyan users faced even more malware attacks – around 14 million, and 41 million PUA appearances.
The numbers seem to indicate that it’s not only the malware that attacks users but also the “grey zone” programs which have been growing in popularity.
The grey zone programs disturb users’ experiences and may determine how many people go and stay on a website or platform or not.
Potentially unwanted applications (PUAs) are programs that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves. However, they are generally influencing user experience in a negative way, Kaspersky security solutions said.
For instance, adware fills user device with ads; aggressive monetising software propagates unrequested paid offers; downloaders may download even more various applications on the device, sometimes malicious ones. While calculating interim results of threat landscape activity in African countries, the researchers noticed that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than traditional malware. They also eventually reach more users: for instance, while in South Africa, the malware would attack 415,000 users in 7-months of 2020, the figure for PUA would be 736,000.
“The reason why ‘grey zone’ software is growing in popularity is that it is harder to notice at first and that if the program is detected, its creators won’t be considered to be cybercriminals. The problem with them is that users are not always aware they consented to the installation of such programs on their device and that in some cases, such programs are exploited or used as a disguise for malware downloads. This is why many security solutions, including ours, flags such programs to make sure users are aware of its presence, influence on their device and activity,” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.
The company said “by taking a closer look at PUA, it becomes apparent that they are not only more widespread but also more potent than traditional malware.”