Qatar had faced a total of 93,570 phishing attacks in the first quarter of 2017, from January 1 to March 31, a cyber security expert has revealed.
These figures were disclosed by Fabio Assolini, senior security researcher, Kaspersky Lab at a cyber security event organised by Kaspersky Lab in Vienna, Austria.
Speaking to Gulf Times at the event, Assolini said, “In 2016 Kaspersky Lab products blocked more than 268,000 phishing attacks targeting users in Qatar. In the first quarter of this year, we have observed that such attacks were on the increase in the country and the number as of March 31 is 93,570. Qatar also had about 13,000 banking trojans (malware to attack banking transactions) infections per month of the first quarter of this year.”
“Qatar along with three other Gulf countries is in the orange category of countries in phishing attacks in the world. In 2016, about 47.48% of the phishing attacks targeted financial sector while over 24% targeted global internet portals,” the cyber security expert explained.
The orange group refers to the second category of countries where phishing attack is widely prevalent while the red one refers to the first category of countries that suffer most from such attacks.
Phishing is the fraudulent practice of sending emails pretending to be from reputable companies to induce individuals to reveal personal information, such as passwords and credit card numbers.
“The phishing attack is also on the increase over the smartphones as mobile phones are a key target of the cyber hackers of late. Most people do not have any protection on their mobiles and they are prone to more such attacks. Above all, people make use of the WiFi connections around them without knowing whether they are secure or not. This allows opportunities to cyber criminals to access the user’s personal details and plan their attacks accordingly,” explained Assolini.
According to the expert, cyber criminals are now using a new form of phishing attack called Smishing, using SMS service. They send SMS announcing some promotions or other news using a hyperlink to access the particular site. If the person clicks on the link, the cyber criminals can easily access all the information on the phone," he highlighted.
The network devices such as the routers and modems are also used by the hackers to access the data from a computer. “Such attacks take place on devices that are not configured properly. These attacks are silent and remote exploiting the vulnerabilities to change the DNS (Domain Name Servers) in the system which is enough for the attacker to control the whole system,” noted Assolini.
He has cautioned everyone to keep their internet connected devices well protected against all such attacks.