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Cybercrime and the Middle East

Cybercrime and the Middle East

Thanks to the recession, there’s been an explosion of cybercrime – both regionally and worldwide. Atique Naqvi finds out how criminals are staying one step ahead.

October 20, 2010 4:26 by

Symantec says the U.A.E. ranked 18th in the Europe, Middle East, and Africa region and 36th in the world in 2009 for malicious activity. In the same year, Saudi Arabia had the highest number of potential worm infections in the region, while the U.A.E. and Egypt ranked second and third, respectively.

The number of cyber attacks has increased in the wake of the global economic crisis. In the Middle East there has been a surge in the number of attacks with banking Trojans such as Zeus/Zbot, says Raiu. However, it is very hard to estimate the amount of losses these attacks caused.

Cyber thugs have been very active this year. Raiu says 2010 started with the Google “Aurora” attack, which redefined the nature of corporate attacks, and continued with Stuxnet, which targeted supervisory control and data acquisition systems in countries with strong oil industries.

Raiu says the jump is due to the financial crisis, which has made the criminals sharper, more willing to follow risky ventures, and develop new technologies and methods to steal money. Security companies have been fighting hard, but education and user awareness is a must to improve the situation.

Hit by the recession, people are exploring ways to make quick money. Johnston says there is a real risk in these economic circumstances as some people fall for such scams while trying to recoup their losses.

The number of advanced fee frauds that include e-mails about lottery, investment opportunities, and bank accounts has gone up significantly. “Cold calling” or “boiler room activity,” where people receive telephone calls saying they have won the lottery or stock options, is also on the rise.

Karam gives consumers a few tips to safeguard their computers and data. He says a good anti-virus program is a must. One must also refrain from posting personal information on social networking Web sites, he says, adding that back-up data, especially on smart-phones, is essential.

Some companies and banks believe that by creating a firewall they can protect their systems, but for Symantec, the systems are not important. “It’s the information and data that is more valuable, says Karam.There is nothing to be afraid of on the Internet, he says, but one should be careful giving out any information that can be used to financially, or even physically, harm.

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1 Comment

  1. Amir Hussain Khadim on October 26, 2010 8:02 am

    Such attacks/scams are nothing new. Most of us have been receiving emails like these since email has been invented. As a matter of fact, such scams existed even in the times of snail mail. I remember getting a mail in early 90’s from “Switzerland” telling me I won a diamond pendant in some international lottery and all they want were the making charges :) . All you need to avoid being a victim of such scams is an IQ higher than an average vegetable and some control over your greed…


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