Malware is an ever present threat in our daily online lives. Our computers are vulnerable to malware lurking in the inter-webs like Trojans, spyware, key-loggers, phishing attempts and much more.
One of our best forms of defense is companies like Microsoft proactively fixing vulnerabilities in their operating systems and pushing updates to their virus scanning software like Microsoft Security. However, some populations around the world are way more susceptible to encounter malware online and it is shown in the latest Microsoft report.
According to Microsoft’s Security Intelligence Report, the location that registered the highest malware encounter rates in 2018 was Ethiopia with a staggering 26.33%. The other high risk areas are from Asia that includes Pakistan (18.94%), Palestine (17.50%), Bangladesh (16.95%) and Indonesia (16.59%).
From Microsoft’s map, Africa has a lot of high risk populations. Checking out the map’s legend, countries with an average monthly malware encounter rate of over 16% include Ethiopia, Egypt, Algeria, Cameroon and Zambia. Countries like Tanzania, Angola, Zimbabwe, Morocco, Benin and Senegal range between 12-16%.
Kenya in particular is ranked with the likes of Namibia and Nigeria with monthly rates between 8-12%. South Africa is the lowest in this list with rates between 4-8%. In Kenya, the Communications Authority of Kenya usually publishes our cybersecurity landscape every quarter. In their latest report (Q3 2018/2019), they revealed that they detected a total of 8.88 million malware attacks between January and March of 2019, which was down from 9.026 million realized last quarter. It is going down, but there are still a lot of threats out there.
Compare that with the countries that have the lowest risk of malware encounter rates which are all below 2%. This includes Ireland with 1.26%, Japan with 1.51%, Norway (1.79%) and Netherlands (1.82%). The reason is that these locations have mature cybersecurity infrastructures and well established programs for protecting critical infrastructure and communicating with citizens about basic security.
Cryptocurrency mining is another section where Africans are quite vulnerable. Attackers use malware to attack victim’s computers to mine cryptocurrency and Africans are highly vulnerable. The average worldwide monthly cryptocurrency coin mining encounter rate was 0.12% but it was as high as 5.58% in Ethiopia and 1.83% in Tanzania. In Kenya, this rate is between 0.6 -0.8%, still 5-6 times higher than the global average.
However it is still good news from Microsoft. The malware encounter rates have decreased from 5-7% in 2017 to just above 4%. This is attributed to the adoption of Windows 10 and use of Windows Defender (Now called Windows Security).
How to secure yourself
Microsoft gave a number of ways you can secure yourself from being affected by malware. Some of the recommendations you already know, like not using pirated software, having backups, keeping your machines upto date, limiting your downloads to reliable sources like official app stores and being careful while you’re about to click web links. It may be wise to be constantly updating your PC to avoid being affected by such malicious attacks.