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At least 50,000 UAE computers 'infected'

Cyber security expert says number has risen by 150%, region is particularly at threat from criminals

More than 50,000 computers in the UAE are infected with “spyware” programmes that can be used to steal personal details and other personal data, a US-based internet security firm has revealed.

The figure represents an increase of almost 150 per cent in the past year but could be much bigger, according to Trend Micro.

The UAE is particularly at risk from cybercriminals because it has a tradition of ethical and trust-based business dealings, said Ian Cochrane, the company’s director of marketing in Dubai in comments published by UAE daily The National on Friday.

The wealthy Gulf region also has the world’s fastest-growing rate of internet penetration, making it additionally attractive to criminals, he added.

Gulf countries are a huge challenge for internet security firms because of the region’s tradition of honour in business, Mr Cochrane told the paper.

“The culture here is very honourable and trusting and that’s where we face the big risk. This region also has a lot of money. So why would criminals waste time and energy attacking western organisations and individuals who have more awareness and are less trusting when you can target people in the Gulf?”

Trend Micro said it detected 50,000 computers in the UAE this year under the control of someone other than their owners, compared with 22,000 computers last year.

“And these are just the computers that we can sniff out as being infected. The real figure is about triple that,” Cochrane said.

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