Hackers Boost Cyberattacks In The Middle East During COVID

Since the start of the pandemic, cyberattacks have been on the rise. The FBI recently reported that the number of complaints to their Cyber Division is up to as many as 4,000 per day—a 400% increase from pre-coronavirus days. And it’s not just the United States that needs to be on watch. The Middle East region is reportedly dealing with a “cyber pandemic” due to COVID-19 related attacks.

“As we moved into a full online life, we saw a huge increase in many of those attacks,” Mohamed Al-Kuwaiti, head of UAE Government Cyber Security, told a CNBC-moderated panel at the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference in Dubai.

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He explained that the region has seen an “at least 250% increase” in cyberattacks this year, with the UAE becoming the target of large attacks after it established formal ties with Israel in August. Al-Kuwaiti revealed that the financial and health sectors were the two most attacked sectors and that those responsible came from all over the region, including Iran. The types of attacks occurring most are phishing and ransomware.

As a result, the UAE established a new National Cyber Security Council in order to develop policies that will strengthen cybersecurity and ensure the country’s protection against the types of attacks that could impact its government or businesses.

This news follows a recent rise in cyberattacks from North Korean and Russian state-backed hackers on pharmaceutical companies working on COVID-19 vaccine development. Pharmaceutical companies worldwide have been impacted.

Earlier this year, the CyberPeace Institute and International Committee of the Red Cross led an effort by 40 international leaders calling on governments to stop the attacks on healthcare. Unfortunately, Multinational cybersecurity firm, TrendMicro, reported that critical public infrastructure and government IT systems were being breached by hackers around the world, with ransomware being the most popular form of attack.