Attacks related to data loss threats, including phishing scams and social engineering, increased significantly in Africa in Q2 2022 in comparison with the previous quarter; according to the latest analysis of Kaspersky, whose security solutions detected nearly 11 million phishing attacks in Africa during this period.
Users in Kenya were the most susceptible to these types of attacks, where a total of 5,098,534 phishing attacks were detected in just three months. This concerning figure marks a 438 per cent increase when compared to the previous quarter.
Kenya’s bad luck was closely followed by South Africa, where 4,578,216 attacks were detected, followed by Nigeria with 1,046,136 detections; representing a 144 per cent and 174 per cent increase respectively.
Social engineering, otherwise known as ‘human hacking’ scams, are used in many ways, and for different purposes, to lure unwary users to the site and trick them into entering personal information.
The latter often includes financial credentials such as bank account passwords or payment card details, or login details for social media accounts. In the wrong hands, this opens doors to various malicious operations, such as money being stolen, or corporate networks being compromised.
Phishing is a strong attack method because it is executed on a large scale. By sending massive waves of emails under the name of legitimate institutions or promoting fake pages, malicious users increase their chances of success in their hunt for innocent people’s credentials.
Phishers deploy a variety of tricks to bypass e-mail blocking and lure as many users as possible to their fraudulent sites. A common technique is HTML attachments with partially or fully obfuscated code. HTML files allow attackers to use scripts and obfuscate malicious content to make it harder to detect and send phishing pages as attachments instead of links.
In particular, while vacation season is high across the globe, scammers are trying to lure travellers who are looking for interesting places to go, cheap places to stay and reasonably priced flights.
Kaspersky researchers have observed intensified scamming activities, with numerous phishing pages distributed under the guise of airline and booking services. The number of attempts to open phishing pages related to booking and airline services in the first half of 2022 was 4,311 in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region.
“Planning a vacation is not easy. People can spend weeks, even months, looking for the perfect place to stay and the tickets to get them there. Fraudsters use this to lure users that have grown tired of searching for great deals,” comments Mikhail Sytnik, security expert at Kaspersky.
“After two years of flight restrictions imposed by the pandemic, travelling is back. But so are travel scams – with intensified scamming activity targeting users through fake booking and rental services.
“Such attacks are totally preventable, which is why we urge users to be sceptical about overly generous offers. If an offer seems too good to be true, it probably is.”