Saudi Arabia top target of Mideast malware attacks

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Saudi Arabia top target of Mideast malware attacks

Spending on information security in Mena to hit $1billion in 2014

By Issac John – Associate Business Editor

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Published: Thu 16 Oct 2014, 12:18 AM

Last updated: Fri 3 Apr 2015, 5:33 PM

Dubai: Kaspersky Lab, one of the world’s largest privately-held vendors of endpoint protection solutions, said on Tuesday that most mobile malware attacks in the Middle East region were registered in Saudi Arabia followed by Egypt and the UAE.

Kaspersky Lab’s Gitex stand offered some fun to its visitors.

“The main reason for the increase in cyber-attacks globally was the spread of Trojan-SMS family programs. These accounted for 57.08 per cent of all detections made by Kaspersky Lab security solutions for Android-based devices globally,” Kaspersky said.

Second came RiskTool (21.52 per cent positives), conditionally-legitimate programs that can, however, be used for malicious purposes (sending SMS notifications of paid messages, transmitting geo-data). Applications with aggressive advertising (pop-ups, notifications in the status bar) were in third place (7.37 per cent).

In the Middle East, the top three most active malware types are ranked differently: RiskTool (55 per cent), AdWare (19 per cent) and Trojan-SMS (eight per cent), Kaspersky said in a statement at Gitex Technology Week.

Against this background, spending on information security in the Middle East and North Africa, or Mena, will reach $1 billion in 2014, an increase of eight per cent over 2013, as across the world spending will reach $71.1 billion, up 7.9 per cent, according to data released recently by Gartner. Kaspersky Lab recently claimed that its products were able to neutralise more than 34.9 million cyber attacks and malware infections on computers and mobile devices in the Middle East in the first quarter of 2014.

According to the “Mobile cyber-threats survey” carried out by Kaspersky Lab and the Interpol between August 2013 and July 2014, every fifth Android-based device protected by Kaspersky Lab security solutions was attacked by malware at least once during the reporting period. The most popular malicious programs are SMS Trojans that send messages to premium rate numbers without the owner’s awareness.

“We often hear experts saying that Android users have nothing to worry about, that although malicious programs for this system appear regularly, the number of attacks is not significant. Until recently, that could be regarded as a fair comment. However, the situation has changed dramatically over the last year — and not for the better,” said Roman Unuchek, senior virus analyst at Kaspersky Lab.

A total of one million Android device users around the world encountered dangerous software between August 2013 and July 2014, representing about one fifth of all Kaspersky Lab mobile product users. In fact, this period was the peak of cyber-attacks registered in recent years.

Users in Russia, India, Kazakhstan, Vietnam, Ukraine and Germany are among the main targets for cyber-attacks targeting Android OS. Mostly this is because people in these countries often pay for content and online services via SMS; for cybercriminals it is an attractive way to monetise malicious attacks because they can use these services to quickly and anonymously transfer money from prepaid mobile accounts to third-party bank accounts.

In the Middle East region most mobile malware attacks were registered by Kaspersky Lab in Saudi Arabia (36 per cent of the joint figure for top affected countries), followed by Egypt (24 per cent) and the UAE (20 per cent).

However, it cannot be concluded that the threat landscape for Android-based devices was entirely pessimistic during the reporting period. In April 2014, Kaspersky Lab experts noted a serious decline in the total number of attacks that happened, mostly due to a serious drop in the number of Trojan-SMS attacks. This may have been the result of new rules for the services paid via SMS introduced by Russia’s telecoms regulator.

“The Interpol and Kaspersky Lab have produced a report highlighting the currents threats and trends picked up over the course of 2013 and 2014. This report again underlines that cybercrime is not exclusively a new form of crime. What we see here is the model and structure of traditional organized crime encapsulated in a technologically advanced form,” said Dr Madan Oberoi, director of cyber innovation and outreach at the Interpol.

— issacjohn@khaleejtimes.com



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