ITA drill tackles cyber security preparedness, attacks

MUSCAT: The Information Technology Authority (ITA), represented by Oman National CERT, conducted the 4th National Cyber-security Drill from Monday with the participation of specialists and experts from 34 government entities.
The event seeks to build human national capabilities of government entities and national critical infrastructure in the Sultanate to handle all kinds of cyber security incidents and enhance their readiness and preparedness to respond to these incidents.
Additionally, the drill aims at enhancing coordination and cooperation between ITA’s OCERT and different government and private entities in all sectors.
About 1,744 cyber security incidents were handled during 2016 compared to 509 incidents in 2015. The incidents were further highlighted at the fourth National Cyber Security Drill.
Bader Ali al Salhi, Director General, Oman National CERT, in his opening speech said, “the latest statistics by Symantec, the specialised organisation in Cyber security, indicates that there is a growing increase in cyber-attacks that targeted and blocked websites. In 2016, the number of attacks reached around 83.5 million whereas there were only 1.10 million cyber attacks in 2015”.
He further added, “Many government and private institutions incurred big financial losses due to the exposure to malicious ransomware that prevent authorised users to access personal files and data because of encrypting files using strong encryption algorithms.
As stated by FBI that the financial losses were estimated $1 billion. It also has been indicated that government and private institutions are facing the threat of malicious ransomware which were estimated about 3,62000 equivalent to 992 cases daily in 2015. However, in 2016 it exceeded 46,300 attacks at a rate of 1,26800.
“During 2016, ITA’s OCERT handled more than 1,744 security incidents compared to 509 incidents in 2015. Since the beginning of 2017, the total number of security incidents reached 1839 until now,” he added.
About the role of ITA in handling cyber threats and enhancing cyber security preparedness, Al Salhi said “ITA’s role is not limited to handling cyber incidents when they occur only, but it goes beyond that by taking proactive precautionary procedures to avoid such incidents and mitigating their risks if occurred.”
The first day discussed topics such as Petya Ransom Technical Reversing and Analysis and the importance of establishing information security centres and their role in preventing and addressing cyber security attacks.