KnowBe4 has released its 2024 Phishing by Industry Benchmarking Report to measure an organisation’s Phish-prone Percentage (PPP), indicating how many of their employees are likely to fall for phishing or social engineering scams.

This year’s report shows that according to baseline testing across industries, untrained employees in Africa fare worse at 36,7% than the worldwide average of 34,3%. This means that, in general, employees in African countries are more likely to click on malicious links or comply with fraudulent requests.

This marks an increase from the previous year’s report. It is important to keep in mind the considerable linguistic, cultural, and economic diversity of the continent as well as the daunting challenges African countries are currently facing when examining its state of cybersecurity.

KnowBe4 analysed 54-million simulated phishing tests involving nearly 12-million users across 55 675 organisations in 19 different industries, establishing a PPP baseline indicating the click rates on phishing tests by employees without KnowBe4 security awareness training.

Although the PPP varied greatly across African sectors and countries, the findings in the report still show the effectiveness of combining simulated phishing security tests with security awareness training. Organisations in African countries that engaged in consistent training and testing experienced a significant decrease in their average PPP to 22% within the first 90 days, and a further reduction to 5,9% after a year of continuous training and testing.

These results are higher than the global average of 18,9% after 90 days and 4,6% after one year of consistent training and testing, suggesting that at least in theory, employees in African countries are more vulnerable to falling victim to cybercrime. This emphasises the need for organisations to focus on mitigating the human risk that exists when safeguarding against cyber threats.

“Cybersecurity challenges in Africa require a combination of regulation, guidelines and security awareness training. Particular focus is needed on threats like deepfakes used for political manipulation, especially ahead of major elections in various African countries,” says Anna Collard, senior vice-president: content strategy and evangelist: Africa at KnowBe4.

“More public-private partnerships are essential to build capacity, address the skills shortage, and improve resilience in the digital world. Investing in Africa’s youth and providing cybersecurity training opportunities can fill the skills gap and also address youth unemployment.”