According to the Dubai Police, UAE businesses are facing a surge of attacks by international hackers, and urged them to use safe and modern protection software.
Colonel Dr. Rashid Borshid, director of the Criminal Investigation Department (CID), revealed that online criminals are hacking into company email accounts by setting up fake email accounts in order to lure companies into revealing their bank details and to discover when financial claims are due.
While recommending the companies to use modern protection software he said:
“International hacking can be combated by using accredited and reliable anti-virus software, regularly changing their passwords, and updating secure operating systems and reliable applications continuously.”
In just a few decades internet crime has escalated from mischievous individual hackers sending mostly email-linked viruses affecting a relatively small number of PCs to all-out government-funded operations with targets as big as nuclear facilities and military operations.
And the Middle East is becoming a hotbed for harvesting cyber criminals as well as a major target.
“Over the last year [the Middle East] has been one of the highest [cyber-crime active regions] we’ve seen in the world,” the president of McAfee for Europe, the Middle East and Africa, Gert-Jan Schenk, said.
“Also with all the geopolitical events that clearly drives a lot of cyber-crime and cyber war activities.”
The need for permanent expertise in the region was highlighted in August last year when a virus dubbed Shamoon wiped clean nearly 30,000 computer hard drives at Saudi Aramco, the national oil company of the world’s largest oil producer, Saudi Arabia.
The attack, which failed to disrupt production but was one of the most destructive hacker strikes against a single business, forced Aramco to shut its main internal network for more than a week.
The region was also recently hit by a global cyber-crime ring that stole $45m from the Bank Muscat and National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah (RAKBANK) in what was one of the largest-ever bank heists.
By hacking into credit card processing firms, the group managed to withdrew money from ATMs in 27 countries simultaneously.
US authorities say the group operated from New York and their “surgical precision”, global operations and speed proved the sheer sophistication of cyber-criminal gangs.
“In the place of guns and masks, this cyber-crime organization used laptops and the internet,” US attorney Loretta Lynch said after the May attack.
“Moving as swiftly as data over the internet, the organization worked its way from the computer systems of international corporations to the streets.”
Cyber-crime is estimated to have caused $388bn worth of global losses in 2011, according to a white paper published by financial services firm First Clearing, as well as online security firm Norton.