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Majority of Malware Attacks in Africa Come from False Dating Apps

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Luis Monzon
Luis Monzon
Journalist. Reach me at

With Valentine’s day around the corner and fast approaching, everyone is looking for love – instead, they may find an online virus that is stealing their money. Ain’t that a kick in the head?

Antivirus gurus Kaspersky say that while choosing the right partner for a romantic night out is of paramount importance, there is another matter that should be treated with care. Their analysis has shown that within 2019, the local region saw the circulation of 275 threats under the guise of advertisements for over 20 popular dating apps in South Africa – with a total of 4,451 malware attacks coming from them. This is 58% of all attacks detected in all African regions (7,734).

Popular dating apps used internationally like Bumble, Zoosk and most importantly Tinder often become bait used to spread malware to mobile phones. Malware that is used to retrieve personal data to later bombard the users with unwanted ads or even spend their money on expensive paid subscriptions. These files and ads are not legitimate. They usually only use the name and design of popular apps to trick would-be victims.

Kaspersky notes that cybercriminals use Tinder the most as a cover for their malware. The app’s design and face were used in nearly a fifth of all cases.

The danger that these files bring varies and depends on the files themselves. Trojans hiding as “JOIN NOW” buttons can download other malicious files to your system, types of malware that send expensive SMSs from your phone to adware that bombards the user with annoying advertisements of things the user has no interest in.

For example, one notable application appears as Tinder at first glance, but is in fact, a banking Trojan that constantly requests Accessibility rights. When the rights are given the Trojan gives itself full access to the bank accounts of users, stealing their money.

On the internet, fake copies of apps like Tinder and are everywhere. Users are required to leave their personal information or connect to the disguised app through a social media account. The data will later be used or sold by cybercriminals, feeding on those simply looking for love.

“We advise users to stay attentive and use legal versions of applications that are available in official application stores,” says Vladimir Kuskov, head of advanced threat research and software classification at Kaspersky, “…and, of course, we wish you best of luck finding the perfect date for this special day.”

Kaspersky recommends a few ways to avoid cyber risks ahead of Valentine’s Day, here’s 4 of the most pertinent:

1. Always check application permissions to understand what an installed app is allowed to do.

2. Do not install applications from untrusted sources and use your smartphone’s settings to block any installations from unknown sources.

3. Find out more about the dating website you are about to visit before giving them any personal information – try to find user feedback and any sort of online trace or reputation.

4. Avoid sharing too much personal information with strangers online, and make sure the person you are chatting with is real and not a fraudster using a fake profile to scam you.

Edited by Luis Monzon

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