Of the 11 European countries that identified criminal suspects and/or infrastructure (CSI) in 13 different African states throughout 2015/2016, Nigeria featured as a cybercrime hotspot for all of them, according to the latest Europol Internet Organised Crime Threat Assessment (IOCTA) 2016 report.
Europol is the European Union's (EU) law enforcement agency established to assist EU Member States in their fight against serious international crime and terrorism, including cybercrime.
Europol Director Rob Wainwright says IOCTA 2016 provides a predominantly law enforcement focused assessment of the key developments, changes and emerging threats in the field of cybercrime over the last year.
In its brief summary of geographic threats and cybercrime activity throughout 2015-2016, based on law enforcement and industry data, Nigeria emerged as the third most frequently identified country as the location for CSI alongside the United Kingdom and Germany.
Though the report did not reflect the number of individual investigations, it says Africa still has the lowest global internet penetration (28.6%) although the continent boasts of a rapidly growing internet infrastructure and covers 10% of global internet users (compared to Europe, which has 17% despite 74% penetration) .
Africa now suffers more from power distribution issues than internet access (having benefited from a series of high bandwidth undersea conduits along the eastern and western seaboards) and many states are rapidly adopting cybercrime legislation. However, they continue to lag behind when it comes to implementing and practising cyber security.
It also notes that Africa now has one of the highest global mobile malware infection rates. This is as a consequence of some African nations having profited "from being able to skip a number of technology milestones such as landlines and branch banking, instead leaping straight to mobile telephones and online banking."
Smartphone internet connections on the continent, it says, are also expected to exceed those of North America by 2020.