Africa may soon have a mobile cybercrime problem and the best solution is education

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When we talk about cybercrime the assumption may be that we’re talking solely about desktops and notebooks but smartphones, tablets and other mobile smart electronics are also at risk.

This is a problem around the world but for us, given we call the continent home, the problem is especially concerning in Africa.

According to cybersecurity training and awareness firm, KnowBe4, there is limited understanding of cyber threats and cybersecurity on the African continent.

“If you add this to the fact that Africa is likely to see around a billion users come online in the next two years, it’s clear that there is a huge risk. Many of those who are going online are doing so for the first time using their mobile devices, and they have no idea that their personal details can be stolen, their accounts hacked, or their data used for fraudulent purpose,” explains senior vice president of content strategy at KnowBe4 Africa, Anna Collard.

One of the major concerns highlighted by KnowBe4 Africa is the presence of second-hand smartphones and feature phones. It’s not that these phones could contain malware but rather that older devices often don’t get software updates.

This is especially true with Android smartphones which are more affordable and more widespread than Apple devices on the continent.

“Africa has the biggest footprint for mobile payment and mobile financial transactions in the world. Cybercriminals are well placed to focus their attention on mobile banking trojans and malware, making this a ticking time bomb that needs an urgent solution,” explains Collard.

So what is the solution?

As we’ve reiterated time and again, education is key to helping folks mitigate the risks of cybercrime. Bear in mind that eliminating the risk of cybercrime is nigh on impossible unless you want to remain offline and even then, sectors such as banking, logistics and more can fall prey to criminals.

Eliminating old devices is not really a possibility and good luck convincing the likes of Samsung to issue a software update for a device that’s five years old.

“If people understand malware, trojans and cybercrime, then they will be able to more easily identify why their data has spiked or why their devices are behaving strangely. They’ll know what to look for and they will be able to make informed decisions around their financial behaviour and device security. Collaboration between the telecommunications providers, financial institutions and security industry is needed to address this challenge head-on,” says Collard.

This is however, easier said than done.

Cybercrime is a complex beast and understanding it requires a high level understanding of technology. This means, as Collard points out, that collaboration is key.

Further to that patience and care must be taken with education campaigns. Not everybody can tell the difference between ransomware and a trojan but with time and care, they might just be able to.

[Image – CC 0 Pixabay]

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz

Brendyn Lotz writes news, reviews, and opinion pieces for Hypertext. His interests include SMEs, innovation on the African continent, cybersecurity, blockchain, games, geek culture and YouTube.


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