Threats, especially through cyber vulnerabilities to mobile devices are on the rise in Nigeria and other sub-Saharan African countries.
This is because the region is increasingly becoming a choice target for cybercriminals, owing to improved regional growth and major investments.
CheckPoint Software Technologies, a cyber-security firm, which disclosed this, noted that though the continent’s Internet penetration was only 35.2 per cent in December 2017, 19.2 per cent behind the world average, cybercrime is a serious threat to countries in Africa.
It informed that between January and August, threat to mobile devices in Nigeria averaged 20 per cent to 35 per cent higher, with users becoming highly vulnerable. CheckPoint said this should not to be taken lightly.
The firm observed that one of the main challenges that the security industry in Nigeria and indeed Africa, with extension to the rest of the globe, continuously fight against was mobile security.
It’s hardly surprising given that sub-Saharan Africa alone currently has a unique mobile subscriber penetration of 44 per cent, expected to hit 52 per cent in 2025.
Giving more insight, Regional Director, Africa at Check Point, Rick Rogers, said the sheer economy of scale offered by mobile devices is incredibly appealing to cybercriminals, as such, 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.
Check Point has discovered two major vulnerabilities related to mobile devices over the past month alone – Man-in-the-Disk-which its researchers discovered a new attack surface for Android apps exploiting a shortcoming in the way that Android apps use storage resources and FakesApp which 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.
The enterprise security firm said it is no surprise that mobile attacks are having a major impact on organisations in Nigeria.
Describing it as one of the key markets in Africa, CheckPoint said Nigeria is quickly becoming a mobile-first country, with mobile penetration increasing from 53 per cent in 2016 to 84 per cent in 2017.
And considering the availability of phones is at a lower price point, more Nigerians are now able to afford a mobile device.
The firm noted that even though major malware like Ransomware, cryptominer, and banking trojans have had, and continue to have, a big impact, it is mobile attacks on Nigerian companies that are growing in prevalence.
CheckPoint said the current threat landscape has evolved into a much more aggressive beast.
We are now experiencing Gen V (5th Generation) cyber-attacks, which are characterized 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 organizations today as they rely on older generations of security,” Rogers said.
According to him, seeing that Africa is increasingly under threat from cybercriminals, the need for local businesses to partner with security specialists that can help them remain one step ahead of the game is essential.
To ensure that enterprises across Africa have access to the expertise and technology needed to protect themselves from sophisticated attacks on all fronts, the company has invested in growing its local teams in North Africa, East Africa, South Africa, SADC and West Africa through various appointments, including Bryan Chuka Ofoegbu as Acting Country Manager for Nigeria and West Africa.
Given the pace at which the cyber security industry operates, remaining future-focused is key.
Check Point said it is already focused on the next wave of attacks and ensuring that clients across Africa and the world can protect their organizations, their employees and their reputations in the ever-evolving space that is cyber security.