Malware has become the most frequent online threat faced by consumers, reveals research from Kaspersky Lab and B2B International. The research shows that over half (53%) of South African respondents have come across, or been targeted by malware online, with a fifth (22%) falling victim to it as a result.
However, almost a third (26%) of Internet users affected by malware have no idea how it ended up on their device.
The findings, which are part of Kaspersky Lab’s Consumer Security Risks Survey 2016, show the ongoing scourge of malware across society as the route of infection and sophistication of attacks continues to increase. Internet users locally face a range of problems as a result, including device slow down (43%), the presence of pop-ups and unwanted adverts (35%), and being redirected to suspicious websites (19%). For 12%, their device has stopped working as a result of a malware virus.
The impact on consumers is not only physical but financial, with nearly half (41%) of local users saying they have to spend money to fix a problem caused by a malware attack, averaging at $121 per incident.
Malware is increasingly being spread in a wide manner of ways and although the source of malware infections varies for different consumers, the study found the highest number of infections happen when people visit suspicious websites (34%). Fake apps and software (20%) and USB sticks (42%) are also cited by one in five as the source of a malware infection they have experienced.
E-mails and messaging are also a common source of infection. 20% of local users said a virus was transferred to them from an email or other message from someone they don’t know, and 16% even experienced the same in an email or message from someone they do know. However, for 26% of Internet users affected by malware, they have no idea of the source.
“The malware menace is an ongoing headache for consumers as cyber-criminals have become more and more sophisticated and sneaky at launching attacks on the devices we use daily,” says Andrei Mochola, head of consumer business at Kaspersky Lab.
“With a third of Internet users completely unaware of how they became infected, this can help to further spread the virus and put even more of our devices, details and finances in danger. To stay safe, consumers need to increase their cyber-savviness and be more aware of the dangers they are up against in their use of new websites or opening apps or emails from unknown sources. Given the financial costs involved, reliable protection to spot malware which might otherwise have gone unnoticed, coupled with heightened awareness and vigilance is undoubtedly better than a cure.”