Q1 2023 report reveals an alarming 88% surge in phishing attacks in Qatar amidst a global uptick in scams and phishing in MENA region.
Residents across Qatar say they have been targeted by an alarming rise in phishing attacks that come amid a global uptick in scams and phishing in the Middle East and North Africa region.
In a recent incident highlighting the escalating problem of cybercrime, a resident in Qatar said they fell prey to an insidious phishing campaign, leading to a devastating loss of 2,700 Qatari riyals.
The scam was disguised as a text message from global shipping giant DHL and manipulated the individual into transferring additional shipping costs, adding to the rapidly growing global issue of phishing and fraudulent scams.
“Everything felt so real. I had an order already on the way, and the text asked me to pay duties, so I did, and the money was taken from my account and there’s nothing for the bank to do,” Salma* told Doha News.
“I am definitely more aware now, and I even got several scam texts after and ignored it, but it is even more than before now.”
Regions of the Africa and the Middle East, including countries like Turkey have experienced an upward trend in such cybercrimes, with Qatar alone witnessing a significant 88% spike in phishing attacks during the first quarter of 2023, compared to the same period in the previous year.
With the summer season providing a conducive backdrop, cybercriminals have been intensifying their operations, targeting unsuspecting victims planning their holidays.
The alarming trend was identified by renowned cybersecurity firm Kaspersky, which highlighted how these digital villains dispatch deceptive HR emails to corporate employees, craftily mentioning vacation schedules, potential rescheduling requirements, or the need to confirm dates.
Due to employees likely having their plans set in stone with tickets and accommodation already booked, they find themselves falling prey to these sophisticated tactics.
Despite the fact that these phishing emails are made to appear legitimate, close scrutiny often reveals discrepancies, such as the use of a generic HR director or a signature that doesn’t align with the company’s style.
How to stay safe, according to experts
As the world continues to grapple with an increase in cyber threats, it becomes increasingly crucial for individuals and businesses to invest in reliable security solutions, validate the authenticity of websites before transactions, and continuously stay updated on potential phishing scams.
To combat the rising tide of digital crime, Kaspersky recommends implementing robust security measures at the mail gateway level to reduce the chances of phishing emails reaching corporate employees.
Additionally, internet-facing devices should be equipped with endpoint security solutions, and regular awareness training should be conducted to ensure employees stay informed about the latest cyber threats.
When planning vacations, it is advised to use only trusted and reputable travel booking platforms, airlines, and hotel websites.
Websites that seem suspicious or ask for an excessive amount of personal information should be treated with caution. A vigilant eye should be kept out for signs of fraudulent activity such as slight misspellings, unusual domain names, or lack of secure connections signified by “https” and a padlock icon.