WannaCry attack minimised by regional non-working day

UAE – The impact from the largest global cyber attack ever on the UAE and across the wider region was luckily minimal as it took place on a non-working day [Friday] for most organisations, industry experts said.

But Bilal Baig, Technical Lead for Mediterranean, Middle East, Africa, CIS and Russia at Trend Micro, told Gulf News that only one computer of a company has been reported as being attacked. That computer did not have any kind of antivirus protection and was running on an older version of Microsoft’s Windows,

Under control after Wannacry

“So, as of now everything is protected and the attack is under control. Also a lot of companies are still enquiring about the WannaCry threat,” he said. WannaCry is the name of the malware behind Friday’s attack. The code that WannaCry is based on is known as “Eternal Blue” and was released on the internet in March by a hacking group known as the Shadow Brokers. The group claimed that it was stolen from a repository of US’ National Security Agency hacking tools.

The malicious malware encrypts data on computers and demands payments of $300-$600 to restore access.

“Microsoft has released a patch for its latest operating systems on March 14 and released a patch for computers running older operating systems including Windows XP, Vista, Windows 8 and Windows Server 2003 yesterday.

Baig said that even though the malware is contained it still can appear in different forms and shapes, and it could show up soon. Everybody is advised to make sure that their antivirus and patches for operating systems are up-to-date.

“Although the attack spread across approximately 100 countries, as per the support calls we are receiving, the impact across the region was minimal,” said Dimitris Raekos, General Manager at ESET Middle East.

More security needed

To prevent it from happening in future, he said that both public and private organisations need to invest in strong IT Security solutions that predict, detect and prevent such attacks.

According to Symantec’s latest Internet Security Threat Report, the UAE is the second-most targeted country for ransomware after Saudi Arabia in the Middle East and Africa in 2016.

Hussam Sidani, regional manager for Symantec Gulf, said that 30 per cent of the UAE ransomware victims were willing to pay a ransom, compared to 34 per cent globally, and simultaneously the global average ransom spiked 266 per cent with criminals demanding an average of Dh4,000 per victim up from Dh1,000 as reported for 2015.

Symantec found that one in 136 emails in the UAE contained a malicious link or attachment while one in 131 emails globally contained a malicious link or attachment — the highest rate in five years.

From Zawya