The Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), specialised infrastructure designed to process threat information and transform into actionable insights, has found that KSA, seen as a prime target in the Middle East region for malicious cyberattacks, has had a very eventful H1 2019 when it comes to Banking Trojans, Malware, Phishing, Ransomware, and Web threats.
While the threats recorded across many areas have increased in comparison to H1 2018, some have actually reduced. This goes to show that significant investment in security infrastructure and awareness within organisations and among individuals is reducing the attractiveness of the Kingdom as a cyber target. However, to caution against unbridled optimism, the first half of the year is typically seen as a quieter period for attacks when compared with the second half.
Maher Yamout, Senior Security Researcher, META, Kaspersky, said: “There is no doubt that within the MENA region, organisations and individuals in Saudi Arabia are seen as prone to various forms of cyberthreats. This is largely driven by the perception around the world of a very affluent society, with a potentially larger pay-out for every successful attack. Kaspersky has been at the forefront of a very focused multi-year awareness campaign, which has now resulted in better measures in place at the organisational level, and improved recognition of threats at the individual level. In addition, the Kaspersky IT Economics study found that enterprise security budgets for 2019 in the META region have skyrocketed to $24 million, compared to just $5.6 million in 2018. Both factors combined are now resulting not just in lower impact per incident, but also reduced attractiveness among malicious actors to invest the time and effort in targeting KSA.”
The KSN insights reviewed instances of attacks in KSA between January and June 2019, and compared this against the same 6-month period in 2018.
The highest activity was seen in Banking Trojans, as Saudi Arabia saw a 43 per cent increase over the same half-year period in 2018, which was still lower than the regional average of a 55.5 per cent increase during the same period. Ransomware followed as the next most prominent threat, seeing a 35 per cent increase in KSA, slightly lower than the regional average growth of 42.7 per cent. Threats originating from various sources on the Internet – Web Threats – were compared against local threats, such as the use of compromised devices, physical device access and similar, and Saudi recorded a modest 8.5 per cent increase in web threats.
It is not all doom, however. The Kingdom actually recorded a 29 per cent decrease in Phishing in H1 2019 over H1 2018, a more positive sight than the regional growth rate of 20.6 per cent. This is, however, no reason to reduce or divert attention, as the Kaspersky Security Network recorded a staggering 334 per cent increase in incidents of phishing in Q1 2019 (when compared to Q1 2018) across the META region. Malware also showed a downward trend, recording reduction of 19 per cent in KSA, compared to growth of 5.8 per cent across the Middle East.
The Kaspersky Security Network is a visualisation of global cooperation against cyberattacks. Its main source of threat-related data is through opt-in contributions from Kaspersky customers. This sharing of aggregated data and permitting the analysis by Kaspersky’s AI and human experts helps ensure protection against new cyberthreats for the larger network. KSN helps Kaspersky respond rapidly to emerging cyberthreats, while delivering the highest possible levels of protection and helping reduce the number of false positives.