The California-based cyber security company Malwarebytes plans to expand in the Middle East, where it some of the largest malware infection rates in the world.
It will start its operations in Dubai next month and is looking to make “significant” hires over the coming weeks. It did not disclose how many people it plans to hire.
In 2012, the Middle East was on the receiving end of one of the world’s worst ever cyber attacks when Saudi Aramco had 35,000 computers totally wiped in a matter of hours. Similarly, the telecoms operator Etisalat websites appeared to have fallen victim to cyber attacks in 2014. The operator’s main corporate website, etisalat.com, and its UAE homepage, etisalat.ae, had been replaced with a rudimentary portal-style Chinese website.
Cyber threats continue to grow in 2016, said Malwarebytes. Last week, the company discovered a “malvertising” campaign that attacked major online publishers such as msn.com, nytimes.com, bbc.com, aol.com and newsweek.com.
According to Anthony O’Mara, Malwarebytes regional vice president, the Middle East has some of the largest malware infection rates in the world. “Since 2012, every country in the region has had at least double the number of infected systems than the global average,” he said.
“This makes the region highly important for the company,” Mr O’Mara added.
Saudi Arabia hosted its eighth Cyber Defence Summit this week, with an emphasis on regional instability and the importance of cyber security amid escalating tensions between the kingdom and Iran.
This month, the Global Aerospace Summit in Abu Dhabi addressed how terrorist groups are becoming more technologically savvy, and urged governments and the defence industry to fight military threats that are coming via computers.
“The future is uncertain,” said Robert Harward, a retired vice admiral US Navy Seal and chief executive of UAE Lockheed Martin. “We know these existential threats in the region like Iran and you look at newer existential threats that we had missed like radical jihadists gaining capabilities. I think all these are indicative of the threats we’ll have to deal with.”
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