Number of cyberattacks increases in the UAE during Ramadan

As the Muslim world observes Ramadan, a time of spiritual devotion and reflection, businesses face heightened cybersecurity risks, reveals a recent study by Qrator Labs, a leading provider of DDoS attack mitigation services. The research underscores a concerning trend of escalating cyberattacks during this sacred period.

For instance, in Q1 2023, their total number grew by 22% compared to the previous quarter. In addition, searches for cyber defense solutions during Ramadan doubled, according to Qrator Labs.

Among the most attacked segments were classifieds (26.7%), digital education (13.3%), payment systems (11.5%), banks (9.3%), and game servers (5.2%). This trend is likely to be along a similar line this year.

According to research by Qrator Labs, bot activity on e-commerce websites also increases during holiday sales periods. Bots are autonomous virtual programs that operate as program or user agents or are created to simulate human activity. On average, their activity rises by 45% during the holy month.

The company found that bots are more likely to enter retail sites under a unified client account and register new accounts en masse for sites offering bonus programs. They also operate within a customer's basket, steal accounts with active bonus programs, and change customer details like their delivery address. Qrator Labs warns that bot attacks can distort key business metrics, subvert marketing campaigns across websites and mobile applications, and lead to slow site operation or unavailability.

Malicious activity increases due to higher spending during the Ramadan month, explains Victor Zyamzin, the global head of business development at Qrator Labs. For instance, the overall technical consumer goods market in the UAE witnessed an 8% uplift in March and April last year compared to the other non-sale periods. 
This tendency is observed in other Muslim countries too. For instance, in the first two weeks of Ramadan in 2023, retail sales across Southeast Asia rose by 47%. Malaysia saw the highest average spike (by 40%) in sales. Meanwhile, Indonesia and Singapore experienced a 30% and 16% increase, respectively.

Shopping activity also increases before  Eid al-Fitr, two official holidays that mark the end of the month of Ramadan. Although there are differences in celebrations around the world, there is one extremely popular tradition: gift-giving. A study by Facebook shows that the days before Eid are the “single biggest 10-day shopping period.”

To protect against cyber threats during Ramadan, Victor Zyamzin recommends businesses make proactive behavioral analyses, use security services, and implement predictive algorithms to stop bots. Ordinary users can also enhance the security of their accounts by changing their passwords regularly, using different passwords for e-commerce websites, setting up two-factor authentication, and regularly verifying account logins through their devices.