The UAE has seen a 250% increase in cyberattacks this year, with phishing and ransomware incidents increasing in frequency.
According to a report produced by UAE-based cybersecurity firm Dark Matter, breaches in the Middle East are “widespread, frequently undetected, and increasingly appear to be state-sponsored.”
According to a 2020 study by the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security, the average cost of a data breach incident incurred per company in the Middle East is $6.53 million USD, well above the global average incident cost of $3.86 million.
This year, more than 2.57 million phishing attacks were detected across the Middle East, from Egypt to the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Oman, according to a Kaspersky Security report.
February 9th was Safer Internet Day, a campaign celebrated in over 170 countries globally.
Steven Cunnington, Global Lead for Identity Assistance Solutions at Collinson, wrote for AMEinfo, advising internet users to adopt simple but important steps and avoid being caught in phishing scams.
And on that occasion, Google pitched in with a similar campaign that addressed Arab internet users, offering key recommendations.
Simple steps for internet use
According to Kaspersky, 10% of connected computers worldwide experienced at least one malware-class attack between November 2019 and October 2020. More than 173 million unique URLs were recognized as malicious and ransomware attacks were defeated on the computers of 549,301 unique users. Cunnington offered 3 tips to help protect your identity when online:
1- Thoroughly check emails and phone messages before clicking on links
Growing digital footprints leave us susceptible to cyber-attacks. Scam or phishing emails and text messages are the most common type of cyber-attacks.
- Do not open attachments or click on links in emails or texts from senders you do not know
- Never give out your personal information, bank/card details or passwords in response to an email, text or phone call without verifying who they are
- Do not click on links sent via email and text
- Check for spelling mistakes in text messages and emails
Change passwords regularly and ensure they are secure
Passwords are a key security measure to ensure your online accounts remain secure and protected.
Passwords should not be shared across different accounts.
Change your password regularly. If your account has 2-factor authentication, then you do not need to change a password as often.
When changing a password, always use a combination of letters, numbers, and characters, and avoid using common phrases or details that are personal to you, such as a pet’s name or location.
Do not share your password with anyone.
Keep software and apps updated
In addition to updating your software and apps, you can also consider specific software and mobile apps that help protect you from malware and phishing attacks, across all device types.
In addition, some Identity Protection services enable you to monitor your personal information so that you can understand if any is available in the public domain or has been compromised on the dark web.
Google addresses Arab internet users
Arab users in the Middle East and North Africa region are called upon by Google to adopt simple steps to ensure the protection of their data, privacy, and safety on the Internet.
In the context of building a safer Arab Internet for all and through the “#netsecure” campaign, which lasted for one week, Google called on users to check privacy settings, through the security check feature in the “Manage Privacy Settings” that helps define privacy settings with a group of Google products, as well as encouraged them to invite four family members or friends to do the same.
Also, and according to “Sky News Arabia”, “Google” announced a partnership with the “Injaz Al Arab” Foundation and the ministries of education in Egypt, the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, and Morocco to train 26,000 students on the “Internet Champions” program, which teaches children the basics of digital citizenship and cyber safety so that they can explore the online world with confidence and safety.
This step aims to help parents in the Middle East provide their children with the tools necessary to have a safer experience during distance learning throughout the year 2021.
According to Google, following a number of simple steps such as updating your computer and browser periodically and using unique passwords that are difficult to guess can make a difference.
The use of the “Password Manager” and “Password Verification” features in Google helps to provide greater protection for user accounts, while the “Password Verification” feature helps users verify the security levels of the passwords they save on their Google account.
The activation of the two-factor authentication feature provides a higher level of security for the account in case the password is stolen.