UAE not hit by global cyberattack

A massive cyberattack hit almost 100 countries on Saturday



The UAE’s Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) confirmed on Saturday that no cases of the global cyberattack have been reported in the country.

A massive cyberattack hit almost 100 countries on Saturday, infecting computers with a malware that demanded ransom payments. Hospitals, schools, companies and governments were affected. Those affected have paid about $30,000 in ransom so far, with the total expected to rise substantially next week, Bloomberg quoted Tom Robinson, chief operating officer and co-founder of Elliptic Enterprises Ltd as saying.

No one has claimed responsibility for the attack as yet.

“So far, we have not received any e-government service cases that are affected by the virus,” official news agency WAM quoted the TRA as saying.

“WannaCry is a malicious programme that affects smartphones and computers by encrypting and locking their data so that it cannot be accessed until payment is made.”

Security company Avast claimed that some 100,000 computers in 99 countries had been infected by the malware with Russia, Ukraine and Taiwan the top targets.

The malware was reportedly using a technique “stolen from the US National Security Agency”, according to reports.

Kaspersky Labs said in a statement that it was “trying to determine whether it is possible to decrypt data locked in the attack – with the aim of developing a decryption tool as soon as possible.”

The Computer Emergency Response Team at the UAE’s TRA called on system administrators to “increase the degree of readiness, continuously monitor systems, and inform the authority in case their devices get exposed to the virus”.

The TRA also called on users to avoid opening any links and downloading any files that they may receive from unknown sources.

According to the 2017 Symantec Internet Security Threat Report, the UAE is the second most targeted country in the Middle East and Africa for ransomware (following Saudi Arabia), and the 26th most targeted country globally.

The report found that found that 30 per cent of UAE ransomware victims are willing to pay a ransom, compared to 34 per cent globally.

Globally, ransomware continued to escalate as a “lucrative business for criminals”, the report claimed.

Symantec identified over 100 new malware families released into the wild, more than triple the amount seen previously, and a 36 per cent increase in ransomware attacks worldwide.

In 2016, the global average ransom spiked 266 per cent with criminals demanding an average of $1,077 per victim up from $294 as reported for the previous year.

“Unfortunately the ransomware ‘business model’ is very profitable for cyber criminals and we’ve seen multiple reports of organisations paying out in the past,” said Rick Holland, vice president of Strategy at security firm Digital Shadows.

“Keeping up-to-date with ransomware is not easy, there are many variants. Many do get shut down and their encryption cracked, only for another version to spring up – therefore it’s a constant game of constant cat and mouse. We can only hope that adequate back up measures have been put in place so that vital data can be restored and systems cleaned. Most ransomware locks data rather than steals it – if that is the case here then the threat can be somewhat contained.”

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