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As we reported last month, the SA’s Cybersecurity Bill still awaits the President’s signature. Meanwhile in its regular report on cybersecurity, Kaspersky, whom we have often quoted in this Newsletter, says there have been 28 million cyber attacks and 102 million detections of potentially unwanted applications (PUA) – such as pornware and adware – in sub-Saharan Africa so far this year. Results from a study over the 7-month period ending in early August showed that there were 3.8 million malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections in Nigeria. In SA there were almost 10 million malware attacks and 43 million PUA detections; while in Kenya there were around 14 million malware attacks and 41 million PUA reported. PAUs (Potentially unwanted applications) are programmes that are usually not considered to be malicious by themselves but generally influence user experience in a negative way. For example, adware fills user devices with ads; aggressive monetizing software propagates unrequested paid offers; and downloaders may be used to download malicious viruses.

In another worrying development, according to BuzzFeed and Secure-D, software that eats up mobile data and registers people for unwanted subscriptions has been found pre-installed on thousands of low-cost Chinese smartphones in Africa more than 2 years after it was first detected. The Triada malware signs mobile users up to subscription services without their permission and has been discovered on Tecno W2 smartphones in countries such as Ethiopia, Ghana, Cameroon and SA. According to the research, 19.2 million suspicious transactions were recorded since March 2019 from over 200,000 devices. China’s Transsion Holdings which manufactures Tecno Mobile Android devices, dominates Africa’s smartphone market with a 41% share, according to market research firm IDC. Shenzhen-based Transsion, which listed on China’s version of the Nasdaq last year, focuses almost exclusively on Africa. It sells cheaper handsets than rivals such as Samsung and Apple.

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Alastair Tempest

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