Qatar experienced a combined 4,268,553 e-mail, URL, and malware cyber-threats detected by Trend Micro during the first half of 2020.
Qatar saw 1,936,620 e-mail threats, 2,094,744 URL victims, 12,256 URL hosted and 224,933 malware detections, the cybersecurity firm said in its annual mid-year roundup report in line with the recent digital IDC CIO Summit Doha.
The Gulf Co-operation Council (GCC) saw 56,870,977 combined e-mail, URL, and malware threats detected during the first half of 2020. Cyber-threats included 41,236,550 e-mail threats, 13,181,016 URL victims, 2,392,097 malware detections, and 61,314 URL hosted threats, it said.
“Qatar and the GCC having high rates of cyber-attacks shows that while the pandemic has dominated all of our lives during the first half of 2020, it’s not slowing down the cybercriminals,” said Assad Arabi, country manager (Qatar), Trend Micro.
“At the IDC CIO Summit Doha, we have emphasised why Qatar’s IT leaders must continue to adapt their cybersecurity strategies to account for increased threats to their new normal. That means protecting remote endpoints, cloud systems, user credentials and VPN systems, as well as refreshing training courses to turn that newly dispersed workforce into a more effective first line of defence.”
In total, Trend Micro blocked 27.8bn cyber threats in the first half of 2020, 93% of which were e-mail-borne.
Business Email Compromise (BEC) detections increased by 18% from the second half of 2019, in part due to scammers trying to capitalise on home workers being more exposed to social engineering.
Among all the threats in the first half of the year, ransomware was a constant factor. Although the number of detected ransomware threats decreased, Trend Micro saw a 36% increase in new ransomware families compared to the same time last year.
Global organisations have also been burdened by a significant spike in newly disclosed vulnerabilities. Trend Micro’s Zero Day Initiative (ZDI) published a total of 786 advisories, representing a 74% increase from the second half of 2019.
Some of these came as part of Microsoft Patch Tuesday updates, which have fixed an average of 103 CVEs per month so far in 2020 — including the largest number of patches ever issued in a single month (129) in June.
Trend Micro also observed a 16% increase in vulnerabilities disclosed in industrial control systems (ICS), compared to the first half of 2019, which could create major challenges for smart factory owners and other organisations running IIoT environments.