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Tuesday, 09 April 2019 08:08

Credit card compromise on the rise in Persian Gulf: claim

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Credit card compromise on the rise in Persian Gulf: claim Pixabay

Countries in the Persian Gulf came in for increased attention from cyber criminals last year, with the security firm Group-IB finding that 138,978 credit cards issued by banks in the region were compromised.

Researcher Aleksandr Kalinin said card owners in Bahrain, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the Sultanate of Oman had been affected.

"The stolen payment card data is often put up for sale on underground forums or used in further fraudulent activities," Kalinin, the head of Group-IB's Computer Emergency Response Team, said.

"[The] Group-IB Threat Intelligence team continuously analyses compromised cards data all over the world. According to Group-IB’s annual Hi-Tech Crime Trends 2018 report, on average, from June 2017 to August 2018, the details of 1.8 million payment cards were uploaded to card shops monthly."

Group-IB said it also found leaked credentials from 7306 users in the Gulf region, among which were 1227 compromised government resources.

"Credentials were not leaked from government systems, which are most likely safe and secure, but from the individuals who used them for personal purposes," said Kalinin.

"However, with the credentials from government websites, hackers can not only obtain classified information, but also infiltrate government networks and maintain presence while remaining unnoticed for long periods.

Group-IB said special spyware may have been used to steal user credentials – form-grabbers and keyloggers, such as Pony Formgrabber and AZORult.

The Persian Gulf region was in the spotlight recently, when a Reuters report detailed how the UAE used the services of a group of American hackers to track Al Jazeera officials and other Arab media personalities.

And last year, iTWire  reported that British spyware company Gamma Group was facing legal action from four Bahrainis who claimed the company knowingly sold its wares to the Bahraini Government knowing that it would be used to crack down on dissidents like them during the Arab spring of 2011.

Yaqoob Al-Awadhi, chief executive of global system integrator NGN International, said the financial theft online had gone up significantly from 2017 to 2018.

"The attacks lately have evolved a lot as attackers are beginning to use artificial intelligence and machine learning to bypass the defence, attempting what is known as ‘low-and-slow’ attacks," he explained.

"What is important is that successful struggle with such cyber attacks is possible. It is extremely important to react to them in time and correctly, as well as to build a competent comprehensive protection system in advance."

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Sam Varghese

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Sam Varghese has been writing for iTWire since 2006, a year after the site came into existence. For nearly a decade thereafter, he wrote mostly about free and open source software, based on his own use of this genre of software. Since May 2016, he has been writing across many areas of technology. He has been a journalist for nearly 40 years in India (Indian Express and Deccan Herald), the UAE (Khaleej Times) and Australia (Daily Commercial News (now defunct) and The Age). His personal blog is titled Irregular Expression.

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