How to survive the rising tide of ransomware attacks in the Middle East

Remote work and increasingly sophisticated hacking tools are contributing to increase in ransomware attacks. Here's how to protect your enterprise.

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Ransomware is on the rise worldwide this year as cybercriminals take advantage of newly remote workers, growing pools of data, and more sophisticated hacking technology. The Middle East, a region that until recently has had relatively little  experience with remote work and off-premises data storage, has been vulnerable  to this growing tide of cybercriminality.

Globally, there has been an incredible 715 percent rise in detected and blocked ransomware attacks since 2019, according to security company Bitdefender, and experts believe that a ransomware attack will take place every 11 seconds by 2021. In the Middle East, there were 2.57 million phishing attacks between April and June of this year alone, security firm Kaspersky has reported. Phishing, a preferred tool of black hat hackers, has seen a 600 percent increase in the UAE since February, and Saudi Arabia saw 973,061 phishing attacks, the most in the region, in the same period, Kaspersky said.

johnny karam Veritas Technologies

Johnny Karam is vice president of emerging markets at Veritas Technologies.

"There are two essential kinds of ransomware which are circulating all over the MENA [Middle East and North Africa] region," said Johnny Karam, vice president of emerging markets at Veritas Technologies. "The most widely recognized sort today is crypto-ransomware, which expects to scramble individual data, information, and records. The other, known as locker ransomware, is intended to lock the system, preventing victims from utilizing it."

On July 6 and July 9, 2020, two state-run organizations in the Middle East and North Africa reportedly suffered a simultaneous ransomware attack that threatened to lock down their systems. Palo Alto's global threat intelligence team, Unit 42, reported that the cybercriminals installed and ran a variant of the Thanos ransomware which created a text file that displayed a message requesting the victim a transfer of 'US $20,000' into a specified bitcoin wallet to restore the files on the system.

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