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Nigeria Suffers Mobile Malware Pandemic

TECH DIGEST – According to a mobile technology specialist, mobile users in Africa’s biggest economy and most populous country have been impacted by mobile malware during the coronavirus pandemic.

One in nine Android phones in Nigeria are now infected with mobile malware, according to proprietary data gathered by Upstream.

The findings are carried in a 2021 report entitled: “A Pandemic On Mobile – Mobile Ad Fraud and Malware.”

Insights for Nigeria come from a three-month sensor campaign, that aimed to determine fraud levels in the country from November 2020 to January 2021.

During the study period 415, 000 mobile transactions and service sign-ups were processed.

Upstream’s Secure-D platform, which detects and blocks threats on behalf of 35 mobile operators in 23 emerging markets around the world, during this three-month period detected 576 malicious apps in Nigeria, many of which are yet to be removed from the Google Play store.

It is noted that over 50 percent of these apps have gone through Google’s official app storefront, a percentage much higher than the average 29 percent in other countries

The top five apps with suspicious behavior that were blocked are XOS Launcher, HiOS Launcher, Phoenix Browser, AHA Games and Cobo Launcher Easily DIY Theme.

Upstream Chief Executive Officer, Dimitris Maniatis, said mobile users in emerging markets, especially in rural regions, tended to rely solely on their mobile devices to connect to the online world, which became essential during the pandemic.

These users tend to be digital novices, may access the internet for the first time, and use low-end Android devices.

They are often unbanked, relying on their mobile phones to pay for goods and services.

“This dependency is making them more vulnerable to bad actors, especially throughout the health crisis, resulting in the high infection rates we have identified,” Maniatis said.

Nigeria, with over 206 million people, has low mobile internet penetration at 35 percent but has massive potential.