An international study conducted by Kaspersky Lab and B2B International has revealed that, in South Africa, 57% of Internet users encountered malicious software during the last year and in most cases (77%), this had a negative impact on both users and their devices. Malware was most commonly encountered on Windows computers – with 83% of all Windows users stating that they had been affected in the last 12 months. However, Android and Mac OS X users were not immune, with 13% and 6% citing infections on their devices, respectively.
Locally, 14% of users believe their device was infected after visiting a suspicious website; and 19% stated they become infected because they used someone else’s USB flash drive, and 8% believe a malicious app disguised as a legitimate programmme, was installed. Yet another 8% of South African’s surveyed said their devices were infected after opening an email attachment. The greater part of those polled, 19%, could not explain how malware ended up on their device.
Significantly, four out of five infections caused problems for those affected. Most often (46% of cases) users noticed computer performance slowed down, 43% of respondents experienced obtrusive advertising (e.g. the browser redirected them to unwanted websites) and 32% of those surveyed found unsolicited programmes on their devices.
Overall, (33%) of local user’s experienced financial losses as a result of malware infection. As well as having to pay a ransom to criminals, victims spent money on restoring a device or data, on software to eliminate the effects of an infection, and some even had to buy a replacement device. When financial losses were incurred, the average cost of an attack amounted to R130.
“The costs and unpleasant effects of a malware infection can be avoided with a little prudence. For instance, do not insert unverified USB sticks in a device, only use official app stores, keep the operating system and applications up to date and scan files with a security solution before opening them. The ability to foresee potential problems and take precautions is the key to staying safe,” explains Elena Kharchenko, Head of Consumer Product Management, Kaspersky Lab.