Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

Author: 
Rashid Hassan
ID: 
1550259479927725100
Fri, 2019-02-15 22:35

RIYADH: Online phishing attacks are on the rise with experts
warning of increasing numbers of cyber-raids targeting Saudi Arabia
and other Gulf countries.
Phishing is a type of fraud where criminals target online victims,
using deception to acquire users’ credentials, ranging from
passwords to credit card and bank account details, and other
financially sensitive information.
Cybersecurity experts say the numbers of attacks worldwide have
risen dramatically, increasing from over 2 million in the first two
weeks of February last year to more than 4.3 million in the same
period this year.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud
University (KSU), told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, due to its
strong position in political, social and economic spheres, has been
a key target for cyber-intrusions by state and nonstate actors
aiming to compromise its national security.
“Various types of malware and scams, especially phishing, are
used to target critical information infrastructure, which serve as
the backbone of the economy,” he said.
More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with
hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams,
said Khan, who is also the founder and CEO of the Global Foundation
for Cyber Studies and Research, a Washington-based cybersecurity
think tank.
“Computer users in Saudi Arabia have been confronted with more
than 30 million phishing emails in recent years,” he
said.
Khan said that awareness, training and “cyber-hygiene” were
important to protect users and organizations from phishing
scams.
KSU has developed a pioneering cybersecurity awareness product,
“Rawam,” which helps organizations train employees to deal with
malicious hacking, malware, ransomware, phishing and
cyberattacks.
The bilingual tool has been used to train 100,000 staff in 40
different organizations, he said.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) last month warned of the growing
likelihood of cyberattacks in the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE
and Qatar particularly vulnerable.
Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an
“energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the
WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019, released ahead of the
annual forum in Davos.
Cybersecurity experts from the Kaspersky Lab, a multinational
digital security provider, detected a sharp increase in phishing
activities on the eve of the Valentine’s Day.
The overall number of user attempts to visit fraudulent websites
detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab in the first half of February
exceeded 4.3 million.
“The spike offers a reminder that we should be cautious when
surfing the web, even if we are just buying flowers for our loved
one,” said Andrey Kostin, a senior web content analyst.

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Source: *FS – All – Science News Net
Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf