Dubai: The UAE and Kuwait are among the most vulnerable for cyberattacks among the Gulf Cooperation Council Council countries in the first quarter, according to a report by cybersecurity firm Trend Micro.

Both these countries are rated first and second in ransomware and malware attacks, URL victims and URLs detected.

The UAE accounted for 2.4 million of the 1.7 billion ransomware attacks detected globally while Kuwait accounted for 1.9 million. Bahrain and Oman accounted for 1.2 million and 534,806 respectively of the total ransomware in the same period.

The report cited the rapid pace of digitisation among the GCC for the growing exposure to risks and vulnerabilities of cyberattacks, and Trend Micro cautions that data breaches and cybercrimes have the potential to derail the progress of these modernisation initiatives.

As GCC economies shift to digital, Cherif Djerboua, Regional Tech Leader, Trend Micro AMEA, said that securing the cyberspace becomes even more paramount as there is an increasing risk of calculated and premeditated cyberattacks.

“What we are witnessing now in the Gulf is a long-term transformation and stakeholders ought to regard security as a key infrastructure necessary for a smart city to thrive,” he said.

Moreover, he said that device penetration, interconnectivity and massive data — all of these have started to proliferate and more so in the near future.

Infected files

The security vendor also reported a spike in the number of malwares detected in the first quarter of the year. The UAE had 1.6 million malwares, while Kuwait had 465,058 infected files. Bahrain, meanwhile, had 202,241 malwares, with Oman coming in close with 161,055 malware threats.

The report showed an uptrend in online banking malware with the UAE getting 433, Kuwait, 90, Bahrain, 56 and Oman 46.

Djerboua said the worrying concern is the increasing number of malicious URL victims.

The UAE registered close to a million with 988,264 URL victims and Kuwait had 224,916 while Bahrain and Oman had 26,860 and 83,388 detections respectively.

For malicious URLs detected in the GCC, Trend Micro got 5,314 in the UAE and 214 in Kuwait. In Bahrain, the company detected 523 and 37 for Oman.

“It is encouraging to see that both government entities and corporations are recognising the need to step up their cybersecurity game. Still we have to be on guard at all times and be prepared to handle major attacks as cybercrimes are also evolving,” Djerboua said.