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Cybercrime: one in 136 emails is malicious in the UAE



Cybercrime has become a huge problem across the world. It’s no longer necessary for a crime to take place in a physical location, as hackers can target victims without ever moving from their computer screen.

As crimes become more sophisticated, measures to prevent them have to adapt quickly. The UAE has improved its security threat ranking according to the latest figures on Symantec’s annual Internet Security Threat Profile Report, dropping from 41st globally to 51st in 2016.

Although the statistics show that things are improving, the country is still a target.

In the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, the UAE ranks 10th. However, this is also an improvement on the previous year, having risen from 6th place. Iran, Egypt, Pakistan and Algeria make up the top four MENA countries for internet security threats.

According to Symantec, globally, the US, China and Brazil are considered the most at-risk countries for cybercrime. The rest of the top ten includes India, Germany, Russia, the UK, France, Japan and Vietnam. There are no MENA countries in the top ten.

Symantec’s 2017 report states that email is “one of the prime sources of disruption for end users and organisations.” We all know the most common one: spam. While extremely annoying, it’s certainly not the most dangerous, such as the propagation of ransomware or phishing campaigns.

In fact, even spam isn’t as innocent as you may think. A growing number of spam emails contain malware – software which can be used to disrupt, damage or even gain access to your computer. ‘Ransomware’ is also on the rise – a form of malware that can freeze your computer and demand payment in order to re-activate it.

In the UAE, one in 136 emails is malicious. In ransomware cases in the UAE, the report claims that 30 percent of victims pay the ransom.

Hussam Sidani, regional manager for the Gulf at Symantec, said: “The UAE has taken commendable measures at federal, public and private levels to solidify cybersecurity in the country.

“Furthermore, various entities have made efforts to identify and foster future cybersecurity specialists, and there is also a growing awareness about cyberthreats in the weakest link in the chain – the end user or consumer.”

According to Symantec, there are some best practices you can follow to keep yourself safe.

Best practice for ransomware:

– Keep your security software up to date to protect yourself against ransomware.

– Keep your operating system and other software updated. Software updates will frequently include patches for newly discovered security vulnerabilities that could be exploited by ransomware attackers.

–  Email is one of the main infection methods. Delete any suspicious-looking email you receive, especially if they contain links and/or attachments.

–  Be extremely wary of any Microsoft Office email attachment that advises you to enable macros to view its content. Unless you are absolutely sure that this is a genuine email from a trusted source, do not enable macros and instead immediately delete the email.

–  Backing up important data is the single most effective way of combating ransomware infection. Attackers have leverage over their victims by encrypting valuable files and leaving them inaccessible. If the victim has backup copies, they can restore their files once the infection has been cleaned up.

– Using cloud services could help mitigate ransomware infection, since many retain previous versions of files, allowing you to “roll back” to the unencrypted form.

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