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Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 24 June 2018

Dozens of cyber attacks target UAE Government and companies in January

The TRA said websites were targeted with 34 cyber attacks from outside the country last month

The figure shows a significant drop from last year, when 136 cyber attacks were carried out in January. Ritchie Tongo / EPA
The figure shows a significant drop from last year, when 136 cyber attacks were carried out in January. Ritchie Tongo / EPA

Cyber attacks against Government organisations and private company websites fell by three-quarters last month according to a new report.

According to the Telecommunications Regulations Authority, hackers targeted 34 websites in January compared with 136 attacks in January 2017.

The TRA said its emergency response team had quantified the attacks as including eight breaches of data, three attempts to block or deface websites and 16 cases of what it called “fraudulent offences.”

If the trend were to continue, it would be a rare sign of good news in an increasingly challenging environment for cyber security both in the UAE and worldwide.

The latest Norton Security Insights Report, published last month, claimed that cyber criminals stole almost Dh4 billion from victims in the UAE during 2017.

The report estimated more than half the adult population had been victims, with each losing an average of Dh669 and spending six days dealing with the fall out.

Norton Security blamed wearable streaming technology and connected in-home devices, like hubs and wireless speaker systems, saying that people made it easier for cyber criminals by using the same password multiple times and storing them in a file on a wireless device.

One in five people still used the same password for all their accounts, the Norton report found. Ultra-connected tech savvy millennials were actually among the most vulnerable to criminals, it added..

Another report by Kaspersky Lab found an increasing volume of spam, much of which contained files that allowed attacks like the WannaCry ransomware, which infected more than 200,000 computer systems in 50 countries last May.

The latest figures should be taken with some caution, warned Matt Suiche, the founder of Comae Technologies, a cyber-security firm based in Dubai.

“Statistics depend on reported numbers,” Mr Suiche said. “Often they are not reported.”

As cyber attackers improved their methods, it was difficult for companies to realise they had fallen victim, he said.

Mr Suiche said that there was often low awareness of the danger of cyber crime among UAE companies. His business now concentrated on international clients because local businesses had: “Not been very responsive to our services,” he said.

Viruses like the Zyklon malware, which can be attached to emails, were most commonly involved in the January attacks, the TRA said.

As part of its strategy to combat cyber crime, the TRA says it has launched awareness campaigns, including lectures, seminars and workshops to promote cyber safety.

It advises all concerned authorities and departments to create backup copies of their data, saving them on other devices that are not connected to the internet.

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