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Experts reveal increase in cyber security breaches in UAE

Unrest in the region one of reasons for spike in attacks, they say

Gulf News

Dubai: Increasing dependence on smartphone services alongside a rise in “hacktivism” is unleashing a spike in cyber security breaches, warned IT experts.

As more government and commercial services move to mobile phones, users will find themselves increasingly vulnerable unless precautions are taken, say IT security experts.

“In the past, attacks were simple and were done by inexperienced hackers,” said Khalid Al Hawasli, security analysis manager at Help AG.

“Now they are starting to jump because of the push to move services and transactions to smartphones. This gives cyber criminals a window of attack.”

Such attacks include the recent cybersex blackmail conducted by criminals abroad late last month and the hacking of certain websites in the country. Political unrest also provides an impetus for hackers, such as the Syrian Electronic Army, which has reportedly succeeded in hacking certain news agencies in an attempt to counteract messages unfavourable to the Bashar Al Assad regime in Syria.

“There have been attacks on oil and government websites recently and sometimes the aim of such attacks is to just create damage or leak information,” said Ahmad Al Khateeb, managing director of Shifra.

“Financial motive is also one of the main reason for cybercrime as a report has found that 75 per cent of cyber crimes are driven by financial motives and it is commonly known that the money generated by cyber crimes is more lucrative than dealing in drugs,” added Al Khateeb.

Fadi A. Aloul, associate professor of Computer Engineering at the American University of Sharjah (AUS), said that most cyber criminals target individuals and try to deceive them by sending links as a way of getting inside their system because companies have taken steps to protect their computers. “This was the case in the New York Times hacking where they targeted one employee to get to the company as a whole and I suspect the same is true when it comes to the recent Twitter attacks.”

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