CWC 2023News

Rising Threat: The Surge in Rootkit Attacks on Middle Eastern Businesses

In the ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity threats, businesses in the UAE and the broader Middle East region are facing a concerning trend – a significant increase in Rootkit detections. According to experts at Kaspersky, the number of Rootkit detections targeting businesses in the UAE grew by a staggering 167% in the first five months of 2023, marking a 2.6 times increase compared to the same period in the previous year. The Middle East region as a whole saw a two-fold hike (103%) in Rootkit detections during the same timeframe.Rootkits are malicious software or a collection of programs used by cybercriminals to infiltrate computer systems or networks and gain administrator-level control. The stealthy nature of rootkits allows cybercriminals to remain hidden while conducting their nefarious activities and bypassing security controls. These detections are notoriously difficult to investigate and analyze, making them a preferred tool for cybercriminals seeking to steal personal data, access financial information, install malware, utilize computers as part of botnets for spam distribution, or launch Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks. Rootkit malware can persist on a compromised system for an extended period, causing significant damage to businesses and individuals alike.Kaspersky experts emphasize that Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) groups are trendsetters in the cyberthreat landscape, and they prioritize stealth as a key tactic for successful exploitations. Rootkits perfectly align with the type of techniques these groups employ, making them increasingly attractive. Notably, some APT groups have already incorporated rootkits into their activities, which has garnered attention from other APT groups, cybercriminals, and hacker communities, resulting in a domino effect and leading to a surge in rootkit usage. Furthermore, the increasing danger stems from the fact that rootkits can be installed on various hardware and software platforms, posing a greater risk as IoT and Cloud-based technologies create a more interconnected and integrated environment.To safeguard governments and organizations against rootkit attacks, Kaspersky researchers recommend several proactive measures:Restrict Access and Implement Strict Security Protocols: Limit access to sensitive systems and data by establishing strict security protocols for the use of administrative privileges.Use Up-to-Date Operating Systems: Employ the latest versions of operating systems that come equipped with features to mitigate rootkit deployment.Activate Security Features: Ensure that all security features within operating systems are activated to enhance overall protection.Regularly Update UEFI Firmware: Regularly update the Unified Extensible Firmware Interface (UEFI) firmware and use software from trusted vendors only.Strengthen Supply Chain Security: Employ robust cybersecurity solutions to mitigate risks stemming from third-party attacks, as supply chain attacks gain momentum.Utilize Threat Intelligence Services: Leverage services like Kaspersky Threat Intelligence to gain real-time insights on cyberthreat tactics, techniques, tools, and methods, enabling proactive defense against emerging threats.Incident Response and Security Monitoring: Establish an incident response process and implement robust security monitoring capabilities to swiftly detect and respond to potential threats.The recent surge in rootkit attacks underscores the critical importance of cybersecurity vigilance for businesses in the UAE and the broader Middle East region. By adopting proactive security measures and leveraging advanced threat intelligence, organizations can bolster their defense against rootkit-based cyberthreats and safeguard their critical assets from stealthy attacks.

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