How many cyber attacks did Qatar face in 2020?
About 10 million cyberattacks have been reported.
What is the benefit of the new cyber security platform?
Predicting and detecting security threats against businesses and critical infrastructure.
The state of Qatar, like the rest of the countries in the region, has been facing a large-scale cyber war in recent years, which has prompted it to intensify its efforts to counter these attacks and prevent access to the country. to obtain electronic infrastructure, in particular governments and economics.
Trend Micro revealed in a report, in the middle of last year, that more than 10 million electronic attacks were repulsed in Qatar by 2020, urging the state to mobilize all its capabilities to address this danger.
The latest Qatari effort in this context has been the success of scientists at the Qatar Computing Research Institute at Hamad Bin Khalifa University, in partnership with other Qatari and Turkish parties, in building a cyber security defense platform called “Warning”. To predict and detect security threats against businesses and critical infrastructure.
The new platform is the result of a three-year project between the Qatar Computing Research Institute, the Qatari Ministry of Home Affairs, the Supreme Committee on Delivery and Legacy, the Turkish TOP University of Economics and Technology, Kadir Has University, and Interprobe , which specializes in providing electronic intelligence and cyber defense services.
The project was funded by a $ 1.65 million grant provided by the Qatar National Research Fund and the Turkish Scientific and Technological Research Council (TUBITAK).
Not the first step
In 2021, Qatar also established the National Cyber Security Agency, which is affiliated with the Council of Ministers, and has an annual budget to be included in the general budget.
The agency aims to maintain national cyber security, promote vital interests in the country, prepare a national cyber security strategy, develop cyber risk management frameworks, and prepare a national plan for response and recovery of incidents and attacks of this kind.
In 2019, the Russian company (BI.ZONE), which specializes in online asset protection and reputation management services, signed an agreement with the Qatari company (MANNAI) according to which the latter will market the Russian company’s products in the field of cyber security. in Qatar.
A statement issued by Sberbank (the owner of BI.ZONE) states that the Qatari company will become the official distributor of the Russian company’s cyber security products and services in Qatar under the agreement.
The partnership between the two companies will make it possible to increase protection against malicious cyber-attacks in the Middle East, using Russian technology.
According to the agreement, the Russian company will provide the Qatari market with solutions to combat fraud and fraud in digital banking channels, and electronic platforms for collecting, analyzing and disseminating data on cyber security threats.
The Qatari side will also have the ability to use cloud protection solutions and servers to automate monitoring processes and respond to cyber security incidents.
Texas I&M University in Qatar has also been collaborating with Hamad Bin Khalifa University’s Center for Executive Studies since 2018 through a certificate program in Cybersecurity Fundamentals.
The program covers topics related to the basic concepts of modern encryption systems, and how to use them to protect data and private communications, as well as methods for collecting and analyzing open source and publicly available information, and confidential computer techniques.
These efforts are being used by Qatar because it is facing an increasing number of cyber attacks. In the year 2020 alone, the country responded to more than 10 million cyber attacks, according to what was revealed by the “Trend Micro” technology company, in May 2021.
In its annual cyber security report for 2020, the Canada-based company explained that Trend Micro’s solutions have contributed to the detection and stopping of more than 4.7 million email threats, as well as the prevention of more than 4.7 million malicious attacks links in addition to About 20,000 attacks via host links.
Trend Micro also contributed – according to the report – to identifying and stopping more than 740,000 malware attacks in Qatar, as well as blocking and stopping more than 200 malware attacks that targeted banking and banking websites.
According to the report, home networks in Qatar were the main source of attracting cybercriminals targeting systems, devices and networks.
Trend Micro was also able to stop more than 400,000 internal and external attacks in Qatar, in addition to preventing more than 1.4 million incidents that could be targeted by hackers, or controlling home devices through malware, obtaining sensitive and important information , or intercept communications or launch external attacks.
And last year, the Department of Combating Economic and Electronic Crime at the Home Office dropped an electronic financial scam in an operation it called “unmasking.”
The Department for Combating Economic and Electronic Crime has confirmed in a statement that more than 10 million riyals ($ 2.746 million) of the proceeds of this crime have been transferred outside the country.
She indicated that the investigations related to this gang revealed the ambiguity of a large number of reports registered with the administration, and the identities of about 30 accused members of the gang who were behind these operations. , identified.
Perhaps one of the most serious attacks that Qatar has faced was the break-in of the official news agency (QNA) in 2017, and the production of statements attributed to the Emir of Qatar, Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani, around the region in ‘ to dip a wave. crisis after Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Bahrain and Egypt severed diplomatic relations with Qatar and imposed a blockade on it.
The crisis ended in January 2021, following a Gulf summit held in the Saudi city of “Al-Ula” to return relations between the four countries and Qatar to their previous era.
As a result of Qatar’s ongoing efforts to combat cyber attacks, the Global Cyber Security Index (GSI) issued by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union for the year 2021 places Qatar among only four Arab countries in the high level of ability to respond to these attacks.
The countries Saudi Arabia, Qatar, the UAE, Bahrain and Oman, respectively, were at the top of the efforts to achieve Arab and global cyber security, while the rest of the Arab countries worldwide ranked in the middle, or at the bottom of the list according to the index , which included 175 countries.
The index measures the extent to which countries are committed to cyber security in line with the legal, technical and regulatory measures they take, capacity building and cooperation, and the extent to which cyber security strategies and policies are in place.
The criteria also include the extent to which national plans are implemented on the ground; Such as the availability of training and qualification for cadres in the field of cyber security.
“Warning” .. early detection of danger
Regarding the new Qatari move to create a defense platform for cyber security, Issa Khalil, a lead scientist at the Qatar Computing Research Institute, said in statements by the local newspaper, Al-Raya: “In the current cyber landscape, information on threats for digital assets is more important than ever. “
Khalil added, “Society is increasingly dependent on information technology, and cyber attacks are gradually increasing, not only disrupting the daily activities of civilians but also causing irreparable damage to vital infrastructure and systems.”
Countries that have the intelligence capabilities that enable them to deal with cyber threats are in a better position to prevent and detect catastrophic attacks on their critical infrastructure and institutions, Khalil said.
He pointed out that the “alert” platform is easy to use and provides high-quality intelligence on current and emerging cyber security threats.
The platform is designed, according to a computer security specialist, to be scalable and to efficiently process and link public data feeds and business records to produce operational intelligence in an efficient and timely manner.
The platform works using innovative team-developed artificial intelligence technology, and includes technology that can quickly detect phishing domains, says Khalil.
Phishing domains are one of the most important ways in which attackers spread malicious content to users to steal their credentials, data and assets.
The platform, according to the cyber security expert, is characterized by its great ability to detect malware, which is the main tool that attackers use to hack into user accounts and steal their systems.
Khalil said: “The project brings together local and international forces of academia and industry to promote the latest research and security operations.”
But an important step!
In his review of the Qatari move, Raed Sammour, an information security expert, said: “Any effort made to combat cyber-attacks at Arab, Gulf and international level is an effort that is light-hearted and very important. . “
In his interview with Al-Khaleej Online, Sammour added that “the new Qatari platform to warn against cyber attacks is important and essential as a first step.”
He continued, “Cyber attacks can only be stopped by counter-cyber attacks, and all nations are now seeking digital cyber sovereignty, which means they have their own cyber army and their own tools, and are always based on the development of these tools. . “
The information security expert called for such platforms and digital armies to be built to defend the cyber sovereignty of countries.
He also believes that Qatar’s efforts in this context are very important, but they are not sufficient, and these steps need to be continued and developed to build an integrated army in a professional way that has all the tools to to defend the digital infrastructure.