World Economy

UAE: Cyber Threats Still Persist

Email was the weapon of choice for hackers in 2016.Email was the weapon of choice for hackers in 2016.

The UAE’s cybercrime threat ranking has dropped in the past two years, but the country remains a key target for hackers, according to a report. The UAE was ranked 41st globally in Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Profile report, and this fell to 51st in 2016, the latest study shows.

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are the only (Persian) Gulf Cooperation Council states to feature in the top MENA list (Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, UAE and Yemen) according to Symantec, with the latter coming up fifth. However, the UAE improved its ranking regionally, too, from sixth in 2015, Arabian Business reported.

Email was the weapon of choice for hackers in 2016, the report noted. In the UAE, for example, one in 136 emails is malicious, and the country is increasingly targeted for ‘ransomware’–a type of cyber attack that uses malware to take over and freeze a computer system, then demands payment from its victims to re-activate it.

The report said 0.5% of all global ransomware detections were in the UAE, while 0.7% were in Saudi Arabia, and almost a third (30%) of ransomware victims in the UAE pay ransom.

Hussam Sidani, regional manager for the Persian Gulf at Symantec, said: “The UAE has taken commendable measures at federal, public and private levels to solidify cyber security in the country.

“Furthermore, various entities have made efforts to identify and foster future cyber security specialists, and there is also a growing awareness about cyber threats in the weakest link in the chain–the end user or consumer.”

However, he warned global hackers are becoming both increasingly sophisticated, and increasingly politically motivated. “New sophistication and innovation are always the nature of the threat landscape, but this year Symantec has identified seismic shifts in motivation and focus,” Sidani said.


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