ALKESH SHARMA / EMIRATES BUSINESS
Information technology networks in the country now have a new bug to fight. The malware which is already spreading havoc in the American and European corporate world is posing serious threats to companies in the UAE and Middle East. Industry experts have sounded an alert against ‘Locky’ — as it is named — which is capable of maligning the whole network of the company, stealing confidential information from the cloud storages. It is particularly aimed at extorting ransom after compromising firms’ networks.
As per industry estimates, UAE is among the ‘top 10’ nations that are on the radar of cyber criminals and corporates globally are losing over $2.5 billion annually due to cyber-attacks.
According to reports, Locky has already paralysed computers of enterprises and private individuals and has caused loses worth millions. Austria-based RadarServices, which has its corporate office in Dubai, has cautioned that the new susceptible target of this malicious virus could be Middle East region. Presence of rich variety of business enterprises in the Emirates, and their vast excessive reliance on technology and new media means, makes UAE one of the most vulnerable targets to the attack.
Locky is currently affecting US and various European countries and its professional outlook makes it difficult for ethical hackers and anti-viruses to detect its presence in time.
“Threats especially on businesses are forever evolving and becoming more and more sophisticated. This current malware cannot be detected by anti-virus programmes, as the infected email attachment is very professionally designed with an aim to extort money from the affected party,” said Aji Joseph, General Manager of RadarServices Middle East.
“It’s high time to act and apply preventive measures. Systems should be regularly upgraded to counter this new virus. Companies here should adopt a more proactive approach towards security than just implementing anti-virus and firewalls to protect their infrastructure,” added Joseph.
This windows-trojan is mainly spread via email attachments, web-downloads. Emails are disguised as invoices/messages and contain infected office documents. When opened, this malware does not only encrypt computer but also infects networks and cloud-storages such as dropbox.
“In many cases, the trojan integrates the infected computer in a botnet, thereby gaining remote control and the ability to spread the virus further in the network. As a result, companies are suffering from failures and enormous damages. As soon as the files are encrypted the blackmail appears on the screen with a ransom demand,” said a Dubai-based cyber expert.