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Cheap Android phones ‘hit hard by infected apps’ in Western Africa

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One in nine Android mobile phones in Nigeria has malware-infected apps, according to mobile technology company Upstream which studied 415,000 transactions between November 2020 and January 2021.

There were about 576 malicious apps in the country, its report said.

Many of the apps are still active and have yet to be removed from Google Play store, it says.

The report, which Upstream produced with its cybersecurity arm Secure D, identifies the top five apps with “suspicious behaviour” as:

  • XOS Launcher
  • HiOS Launcher
  • Phoenix Browser,
  • AHA Games and
  • Cobo Launcher Easily DIY Theme.
Top 5 Suspicious Apps – Nigeria NOv 2020 – Jan 2021

On many Android phones sold in Nigeria, these apps come pre-installed. For instance, “”, a radio player app is said to be responsible for 99.8 million fraudulent transactions.

Only 2.6% of devices globally are reported to be harbouring high-risk apps, Upstream says.

Some mobile markets are being targeted more than others by malicious actors, it says.

The risk of fraud has increased as more businesses and individuals have been using the internet via smartphones during the coronavirus pandemic, according to the report.

Upstream CEO Dimitris Maniatis says that digital novices in rural communities who depend on mobile phones to stay connected to the world may easily fall victim.

Malware activities may be as simple as changing a mobile phone’s settings to something as dangerous as mining for passwords and personal information.

Samuel Musila
Samuel Musila
Passionate Software Developer and Tech content creator From Nairobi, Kenya

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