As the severity and frequency of cyber crime attacks increases, countries in the Middle East are becoming a target, according to security vendor Symantec.
"The trend we see is that criminals are focusing on emerging markets," said Jonny Karam, regional director, Middle East and North Africa. "Why? The established markets like US and Europe are cracking down very hard. They have built legislation [in order] to crack down. Attackers are now going to places where legislation is not that advanced. They go after growing infrastructure. In UAE, Saudi Arabia and Egypt for example, the penetration rate of DSL is very high. So for the attackers it is very big news. The Middle East has become the hot spot."
According to Symantec's new Internet Security Threat Report volume XV, the UAE is ranked number 18 in EMEA (Europe, Middle East and Africa) and 36 in the world in 2009 for malicious activity. In comparison to the previous year, the UAE has seen an improvement in global ranking from number 40 to 36. Egypt is ranked 15th in EMEA and 31st in the world in 2009, climbing from number 26 globally in 2008. Saudi Arabia is ranked 13th in EMEA and 29th in the world in 2009 for malicious activity. Egypt, Turkey and Saudi Arabia were the top three ranked countries for potential virus infections during 2009, in that order.
As a consequence of that rise in malicious activity, Symantec reports that the average annual cost of data loss at large enterprises in the UAE was about $2 million (Dh7.34m) in 2009. Also in the UAE, Symantec said corporate data loss can cost companies in the UAE between 5% and 30% of their overall revenue as data loss prevention solutions and security policies are not put in place. Financial institutions face the biggest threat from cyber attacks.