Complex Made Simple

McAfee opens cyber defence centre in Dubai

McAfee today announced the opening of its Cyber Defence Center (CDC) for incident response and threat education across the region – the first of its kind worldwide.

The global web security firm says its facility is a timely response to the sustained online attacks on businesses, as well as new emerging threats.

The centre will be staffed by ten full-time employees and provide a range of services, including emergency incident response and forensics services, supported by McAfee’s forensics lab, also located in Dubai. The Middle East employees will work alongside the 300-strong team at the EMEA research labs, located in Aylesbury, England.

Other strategic services will include contextual threat intelligence, open source intelligence investigations, denial-of-service-attacks defense assessments, digital forensics and targeted malware threat analysis. McAfee’s robust portfolio of strategic services will continue to evolve and respond to new threats to help protect their customers.

Speaking at a press conference today in Downtown Dubai, McAfee’s EMEA president, Gert-Jan Schenk, identified four threat sources: those seeking financial gain, political dissidents, intellectual property (IP) and information thieves, and full-scale cyber warfare.

“When hacking started out it was all about gaining status within the community, but now hackers can be state-funded and tend to be really well organised,” says Schenk.

“You really need to be proactive and understand what’s happening and where the attacks are coming from. If you understand who they are and what they’re after then it’s easier to defend yourself,” he adds.

While personal and corporate appear different, attack strategies often overlap. Regardless of threat protection, any web users who hold personal details online can be subject to social engineering and ransomware attacks – and might face extortion and manipulation from savvy cyber criminals.

“Common sense is not so common” – Voltaire

With most of Mena’s tech-hungry population wielding multiple mobile devices, security firms continue to urge both individuals and businesses to adopt some form of protection for their smartphones and tablets.

McAfee estimates that approximately 90 per cent of mobile devices are not protected, with zero anti-virus software installed. The Android OS is deemed to be particularly vulnerable, with 18,500 unique pieces of ‘moleware’ identified globally in Q2 of this year alone.

Carric Dooley, director of Foundstone Services, says that while there are no good examples of high-profile smartphone attacks, both the level of vulnerability and the potential for disaster are huge.

“Typically large-scale attacks don’t have much to do with handsets, but there is a lot of future potential there. These devices are ubiquitous, and that’s the catalyst and what a lot of attackers look for,” Dooley tells AMEinfo.

“As Android gains in popularity – and there are a lot of users now – we’re going to see more iterations, derivatives and various examples of malware. It’s not that people will discover vulnerabilities and begin to use them, it’s more groups of people figuring out a viable example,” he adds.

The smartphone issue is prevalent for businesses of all sizes, with Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policies becoming increasingly commonplace. Dooley explains that it’s up to businesses to develop their own policies and procedures in terms of personal devices and social media usage, since “common sense is not so common”.

Hamed Diab, regional director for Mena, says: “You’re as weak as your weakest link. Whether attacks are coming from your mobile or your PC, it really doesn’t matter. What matters is taking a holistic approach to protect yourself and your financials.

That is where the CDC can really help enterprises in the region. We have all current threats consolidated – more than 147 million examples of threats are circulating right now.”

While McAfee declined to discuss the extent of it’s Middle East customer base, or specific financials, Schenk told reporters that in the past year the Middle East was the fastest growing region in EMEA and one of the fastest growing in the world in terms of the enterprise security business. The firm has seen consistent growth over the past eight quarters.