According to an IBM report, cyberthreat actors continue to target Saudi Arabia

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Riyadh – Asdaf News:

Saudi Arabia continues to be one of the most targeted nations in the Middle East and Africa (MEA) region, accounting for two-thirds of incidents, according to IBM Security’s annual X-Force Threat Intelligence Index. Threat actors are discovering new and inventive ways to launch cyberattacks.

Among incidents to which X-Force replied in Saudi Arabia, the implementation of backdoors was the most frequent attacker action, at 40%. Additional activities include ransomware, adware, and spam campaigns.

According to the index, financial and insurance businesses accounted for two-thirds of cases, with the remaining split between manufacturing and professional, commercial, and consumer services.

The research ranks the Middle East and Africa sixth on its list of regions with the biggest share of cyber-attacks recorded by X-Force, accounting for 4% in 2022, which was down from 14% in 2021. The most often attacked region was identified as Asia Pacific, which accounted for 31% of all attacks reported worldwide. North America came in third with 25% of the attacks, Europe came in second with 28%, South America came in fourth with 12%.

“Saudi Arabia, as with much of the region, is undergoing tremendous digital transformation. With the Kingdom now recognized as one of the most connected countries in the world, proactive action must be taken to prevent and hinder cyberattacks”, said Fahad AlAnazi, General Manager, IBM Saudi Arabia. “This is essential to safeguarding the nation’s interests, growth, and development. By being systematic in approach and exercising foresight, we can futureproof the Kingdom, improving security and averting potential crises.”

AlAnazi continued: “IBM Security provides enterprise cybersecurity solutions to help businesses thrive in the face of uncertainty. As the largest enterprise security provider, we have developed an advanced and integrated portfolio of enterprise security products and services. These offerings — ranging from our ransomware protection to cloud security solutions — are powered by AI and a modern approach to security strategy using zero trust principles. Equipping our clients with these tools, we empower the entities that we support to effectively manage and govern risk.”

Globally, the X-Force Threat Intelligence Index finds that although ransomware’s share of incidents declined only slightly (4 percentage points) in 2022, defenders were more successful in detecting and preventing ransomware. Despite this, attackers continued to innovate, with the report showing the average time to complete a ransomware attack dropped from two months down to less than four days.

The IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Index tracks the new and existing trends and attack patterns — pulling from billions of data points from network and endpoint devices, incident response engagements, and other sources.

Some of the key findings in the 2023 report include:

  • Extortion: Threat Actors Go-to Method. The most common impact from cyberattacks in 2022 was extortion, which was primarily achieved through ransomware or business email compromise attacks. Europe was the most targeted region for this method, representing 44% of extortion cases observed, as threat actors sought to exploit geopolitical tensions.
  • Cybercriminals Weaponize Email Conversations. Thread hijacking saw a significant rise in 2022, with attackers using compromised email accounts to reply within ongoing conversations posing as the original participant. X-Force observed the rate of monthly attempts increase by 100% compared to 2021 data.
  • Legacy Exploits Still Doing the Job. The proportion of known exploits relative to vulnerabilities declined 10 percentage points from 2018 to 2022, due to the fact that the number of vulnerabilities hit another all-time high. The findings indicate that legacy exploits enabled older malware infections such as WannaCry and Conficker to continue to exist and spread.

The report features data IBM collected globally in 2022 to deliver insightful information about the global threat landscape and inform the security community about the threats most relevant to their organizations.

You can download a copy of the 2023 IBM Security X-Force Threat Intelligence Report here.


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