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Middle East Under Operation Ghoul Cyber Attacks, finds Kaspersky Lab

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New waves of Cyber attacks called Operation Ghoul that started on the 8th and the 27th of June 2016
threatens the Middle East region, Kaspersky Lab said.

“The attackers try to lure targets through spear phishing emails that include compressed executables. In the majority of cases, CEOs, COOs, managers, supervisors and engineers recieve the email lures,” said the security firm.

The malware collects data such as passwords, keystrokes and screenshots and sends it to the attackers.

The main motivation for the attacks is financial gain resulting either from sales of stolen intellectual property and business intelligence, or from attacks on their victim’s banking accounts.

“Unlike state-sponsored actors, which choose targets carefully, this group and similar groups might attack any company. Even though they use rather simple malicious tools, they are very effective in their attacks,” said Mohammad Amin Hasbini, security expert at Kaspersky Lab.

Targets of interest to Operation Ghoul range from petrochechemical companies to technology providers, freight shippers to solar energy firms.

The main focus appears to be on the industrial and engineering side, with construction, architecture, automaton, transport and aerospace among the most constantly-attacked sectors.

In total, over 130 organizations have been identified as victims of Operation Ghoul in which 70 percent of targets were discovered in the United Arab Emirates alone.

Kaspersky Labs says the while some companies became victims in 2015, the latest wave of attacks began in June this year and are focusing more on some countries than others.

Kaspersky Lab recommends users to be extra cautious while checking and opening emails and attachments. In addition, privileged users need to be well trained and ready to deal with cyber threats; failure in this is, in most cases, the cause behind private or corporate data leakage, reputation and financial loss.”

In ancient Folklore, the Ghoul is an evil spirit associated with consuming human flesh and hunting kids, originally a Mesopotamian demon. Today, the term is sometimes used to describe a greedy or materialistic individual.

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