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UAE remains prone to internet crime

Dubai: As the field of internet connectivity expands, so too does a hacker's playground.

The current internet threat environment is characterised by an increase in data theft, data leakage, and the creation of targeted, malicious code for the purpose of stealing confidential information that can be used for financial gain, Symantec's latest Internet Security Threat Report Volume XI revealed.

Among the 180 countries monitored globally, the UAE ranks 46th in terms of origin of attacks as well as being targeted by online fraudsters.

The report says the UAE is the source and target of the most internet security threats in the Middle East.

However, the UAE ranks lowest in spam as a percentage of e-mail and the presence of spam zombies, suggesting the country is developing a robust IT infrastructure and awareness among users that result in a more proactive approach to securing against threats.

"Cyber criminals continue to refine their attack methods in an attempt to remain undetected and to create global cooperative networks to support the ongoing growth of criminal activity." says Kevin Essac, regional director, Symantec Mena.

The report shows the attacks are coming from the UAE as well, but more than that, people's machines in the UAE are used to attack this country as well as other countries.

Rapid growth in adopting technologies and broadband in particular would make the country more exposed than others.

Essac says the UAE's high economic profile, clubbed with the fact that the country is among the first to adopt the latest technologies, makes the country more prone to online attacks than other GCC countries. However, steps are being taken to help minimise these attacks such as the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) formation as well as the passing of the IT Crime Law in February 2006.

"As cyber criminals become increasingly malicious, they continue to evolve their attack methods to become more complex and sophisticated in order to prevent detection," he said.

The US was the country of origin of the most attacks detected by sensors in the EMEA region followed by China with 11 per cent and United Kingdom with 13 per cent.

Saudi Arabia stood at 61 per cent followed by Kuwait at 65 per cent, Bahrain at 76 per cent, Qatar at 78 per cent, Jordan at 89 per cent and Oman at 93 per cent.

The home users are by far the most highly targeted sector in the EMEA region, accounting for 99.4 per cent of all targeted attacks.

Symantec expects that attacks targeted against the financial services industry will continue to rise as attackers become more profit driven.

Financial institutions are the most targeted sector and the worst-hit industry in the UAE.

By Naushad K. Cherrayil(Gulfnews)
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