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Increased banking trojans in UAE in 2020: Kaspersky

Since the start of this pandemic, cybercriminals have found new ways of exploiting users, resulting in spikes across different kinds of malware in the GCC

The UAE saw a significant increase of 57% in banking trojans Statistics show a 58% decrease in ransomware threats in UAE as well as a 42% decrease in crypto-miner infections Some banking trojans had integrated cryptocurrency wallets hijacking capability

Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) statistics around cybersecurity threats in the United Arab Emirates indicate that overall malware infections have decreased by 5% in 2020 when compared to 2019. However, Kaspersky experts saw an increase of 38% during the second half of 2020 as compared to the first half of 2020. This is probably due to the country and businesses gradually opening up starting the second half of 2020. 

The UAE also saw a significant increase of 57% in banking trojans, which coincides with the global trend that saw an increase of 29% in the same type of attacks. Banking Trojans or ‘bankers’ are one of the most widespread tools fonn cybercriminals as they focus on stealing money or financial information. Bankers usually search for users’ credentials for e-payment and online banking systems, hijacking one-time passwords and then passing that data to the attackers. Some banking trojans also had integrated cryptocurrency wallets hijacking capability. In recent months due to the ongoing pandemic, most people have shifted to e-payment and online banking systems – This could be one of the contributing reasons for the increase in Banking Trojan attacks.

The statistics show a 58% decrease in ransomware threats in UAE as well as a 42% decrease in crypto-miner infections in the country. This coincides with the global trend, which saw a decrease of 40% and 24% respectively.

Maher Yamout, Senior Security Researcher at Kaspersky, said: “The cybersecurity threat environment is dynamic, evolving, and topical, making it more challenging to keep pace with the cybersecurity threats. Particularly, when accessing shopping deals, personal finances, and investment opportunities, it pays to be more careful. In contrast to other major countries in the region, UAE showed the steepest drop in crypto-mining attacks, probably reflecting a strong regulatory environment and heightened awareness and preparedness in the country.”

Dr. Fadi Aloul, CISSP, Professor & Department Head of Computer Science & Engineering at American University Sharjah said, “Since the start of the pandemic cybercriminals has always found new ways of exploiting users which have resulted in the GCC seeing its fair share of cyber threats over the last year. While adjusting to this new normal it is also important to keep in mind the importance of staying vigilant and informed about various cyber threats.”

The Kaspersky Security Network (KSN) is a specialized infrastructure designed to process threat information anonymously and transforms them into actionable insights.  UAE’s decrease in ransomware and crypto-mining infections is a promising outlook on the cyber threat landscape across the country.