Kenya Nigeria and South Africa have recorded more than 28 million malware attacks and about 102 million detections of ‘grey zone’ software or Potentially Unwanted Software (PUA)
PUAs refer to programs that are not necessarily malicious, but affect user experience in a negative way. An example is when adware spams your device with ads or monetizing offers start processing unrequested payments for you to complete or even more commonly, downloads begin without your permission.
According to a research carried out by anti-virus firm, Kaspersky, the results analyzing the threat landscape activity in African countries show that PUAs attack users almost four times more often than ordinary malware.
Kenya and South Africa have experienced more intense threats with Kenya leading in the malware attacks by around 14 million, with 41 million PUA appearances. South Africa experienced 10 million malware attacks and 43 million PUAs and Nigeria had 3.8 malware attacks and 16.8 million PUA detections.
PUAs are also more widespread potentially reaching more users, for example, malware attacks in South Africa affected 415,000 users in 7 months in 2020 while PUAs affected 736,000 users in the same period.
“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.” said Denis Parinov, a security researcher at Kaspersky.
“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,” he added.
The fast spread of PUAs make them potentially more dangerous than malware given that some PUAs are carry malicious spamware.