Cyber attacks double in GCC, warns Symantec

A sharp rise in the number of cyber attacks in the GCC region saw 248,000 computer crashes in the UAE, second only to Saudi Arabia which suffered 796,000 attacks during the last nine months of 2009.

According to a new study from security software maker Norton, the total number of infected machines across the GCC has risen 116 per cent in less than year.

The report says 65 per cent of internet users globally have fallen victim to cybercrimes, including computer viruses, online credit card fraud and identity theft.

The Norton Cybercrime Report: The Human Impact that delves into the personal toll that such attacks takes shows that the strongest reactions were victims feeling angry (58 per cent), annoyed (51 per cent) and cheated (40 per cent). In many cases they blame themselves for being attacked.

Of 3 per cent of those surveyed don’t think it will happen to them, and some 40 per cent do not expect cybercriminals to be brought to justice.

Dr Raymond Hamden, Clinical & Forensic Psychologist at the Human Relations Institute of Dubai, agrees. “In the case of cybercrime, one’s privacy is taken away without any control or ability to fight off the assailant,” he said.

“Identity loss in particular is extremely frightening since one may lose control of all things that classify the person as unique.” Dr Hamden believes that the shock can have further repercussions: “Psychological trauma may cause an acute stress reaction which may lead on to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). Individual experiences include depression, anxiety, hyper-vigilance and an exaggerated startle response.”

But people still aren’t changing with only half (51 per cent) of adults saying they would change their behavior if they became a victim. Even more concerning, fewer than half (44 per cent) reported the crime to the police.

Solving cybercrime can be highly frustrating: According to the report, it takes an average of 28 days to resolve a cybercrime, and the average cost to resolve that crime is $334. Twenty-eight percent of respondents said the biggest hassle they faced when dealing with cybercrime was the time it took to solve.

But despite the hassle, reporting a cybercrime is critical. “We all pay for cybercrime, either directly or through pass-along costs from our financial institutions,” said Tamim Taufiq, Head of Consumer Sales, MENA at Symantec Corporation.

An official release from Norton says the best defence against such attacks is to surf the internet with up-to-date, comprehensive security software.

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