Over half of ransomware victims pay off criminals: Survey

Ransomware is a specific type of malware where criminals lock, encrypt or steal data from a user and refuse to return or release it until a fee is paid. (Shutterstock)
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Updated 05 April 2021

Over half of ransomware victims pay off criminals: Survey

  • Despite more than half of victims paying out, only 17 percent were able to retrieve their data while 72 percent lost some of the files stolen from them

DUBAI: More than half of ransomware victims chose to pay out to criminals last year, but only 15 percent received their lost data, according to a new global survey by security company Kaspersky.

Ransomware is a specific type of malware where criminals lock, encrypt or steal data from a user and refuse to return or release it until a fee is paid.

From a survey of 15,000 global customers, Kaspersky found that 52 percent of ransomware victims had paid fees to criminals.

The survey found that 28 percent of victims paid less than $100, 15 percent between $100 and $249, 43 percent between $250 to $1999 and 3 percent between $2,000 and $4,999.

Despite more than half of victims paying out, only 17 percent were able to retrieve their data while 72 percent lost some of the files stolen from them.

“This data shows we have seen a significant proportion of consumers paying a ransom for their data over the past 12 months. But handing over money doesn’t guarantee the return of data, and only encourages cybercriminals to continue the practice,” Marina Titova, head of consumer product marketing at Kaspersky, said in a statement.

“Therefore, we always recommend that those affected by ransomware do not pay, as that money supports this scheme to thrive.

“Instead consumers should make sure to invest in initial protection and security for their devices and regularly back up all data.”

Kaspersky reported last month that Saudi Arabia experienced about 7 million cyberattacks in the first two months of 2021.

The company said that the Kingdom saw more than 22.5 million brute-force attacks in 2020 on remote desktop protocols, the most popular way to access Windows clients or servers.

Brute-force attacks are trial-and-error attempts to guess login information, encryption keys or find hidden web pages.

The number of attacks increased significantly in March, with an 104 percent increase to 2 million, compared with February’s 983,512.

Global leaders call for binding agreements, increased renewable energy investments at COP28 

Updated 9 sec ago

Global leaders call for binding agreements, increased renewable energy investments at COP28 

DUBAI: The call for a significant increase in renewable energy investments resonated strongly on the third day of COP28, with various leaders advocating for a binding agreement at the Dubai event.   

In the High-Level Segment National Statements, German Chancellor Olaf Scholz outlined a tripartite proposal to reinforce the gathering’s recurring themes.   

“I propose three initiatives today. Firstly, making renewable energy expansion a top global energy policy priority. Here in Dubai, let’s set two binding goals, tripling renewable energy expansion and doubling energy efficiency by 2030,” Scholz stated.  

“My second point addresses international collaboration. We require platforms for developing collective solutions to transformation challenges.”    

He added: “Thirdly, I wish to discuss solidarity and responsibility. In 2022, Germany exceeded its goal of providing €6 billion ($6.5 billion) annually for international climate finance.”   

Norway’s Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Store also highlighted his country’s commitment to the event’s ambitious renewable energy targets.   

On the other hand, Iceland’s Prime Minister Katrin Jakobsdottir reaffirmed her nation’s dedication to advancing global energy transition.   

“We must drastically reduce emissions. Accelerating the green energy transition, scaling up green solutions, enhancing nature-based solutions, and ensuring polluters pay are essential. However, we also need to reduce our focus on maximizing production and consumption, shifting toward sustainability and well-being,” Jakobsdottir remarked.   

Other leaders underscored the critical need for financial support to assist developing countries in their transition efforts.   

“The world must honor its financial pledges. In 2022, the IMF (International Monetary Fund) reported $7 trillion spent on fossil fuel subsidies, yet the global commitment to the Paris Agreement’s $100 billion annual target remains challenging,” stated Mark Brown, prime minister of Cook Islands.   

Liberia’s President George Weah also emphasized the importance of improved global financing mechanisms, highlighting the country’s need for support to strengthen its climate action initiatives.   

Moreover, global leaders have also laid out their accomplishments as well as future strategies for combating climate change.   

“We have cut our coal use by over 80 percent. We are growing our economy at a much faster pace than the eurozone average while reducing emissions. In total, our emissions are down by 43 percent from 2005 as we turn to renewable energy, the best performance among European countries,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, prime minister of Greece, said.   

“Burundi has committed via the Nationally Determined Contributions to protect the environment, to strengthen resilience toward climate change, and to boost food security. This is infused in our national policies and our vision for Burundi. An emerging country by 2040, and a developed country by 2060,” Evariste Ndayishimiye, president of Burundi, said.  

US should participate in carbon pricing rather than oppose it: IMF director

Updated 1 min 22 sec ago

US should participate in carbon pricing rather than oppose it: IMF director

DUBAI: The US should participate, rather than being a “loud opponent,” in carbon pricing, urged the director of the International Monetary Fund.
Addressing the Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum alongside the UN Climate Conference, Kristalina Georgieva affirmed that the US must not hinder the world from “moving in the right direction.” Instead, the country should explore the standards and regulatory fees it needs to implement carbon pricing into its economic model. 

The director deemed carbon pricing a “wonderful instrument” due to its dual role in revenue generation and addressing inequality. The principle is straightforward: the more emissions one creates, the more one consumes, resulting in a proportional payment.
According to Georgieva, revenues generated from carbon pricing can be strategically directed to compensate the most vulnerable parts of the global population. Assessments by the IMF indicate that allocating 20 percent of these revenues significantly support the 30 percent most vulnerable areas, providing them with the “much-needed” backing. 

The IMF chief emphasized that “carbon price is a very strong incentive, much stronger than anything else we can invent.”  

Addressing concerns about the political feasibility of carbon prices in various places, she expressed disagreement, asserting that carbon pricing can be implemented in diverse ways.
She added: “It can be a tax, and when it is a tax, it is the most efficient and impactful way.”  

Georgieva pointed out that in countries where carbon tax was gradually introduced, emissions saw a significant reduction of 30 to 40 percent. Furthermore, she highlighted European trading mechanisms that have successfully generated $190 billion in revenue.
Despite the current average carbon price standing at $20 per ton in areas covered by carbon pricing, when amalgamating this figure with 75 percent of the world without carbon pricing, the average carbon price would fall to $5, she noted. 
According to the IMF, a package of measures, including carbon pricing, the elimination of harmful subsidies, and policy support, would significantly accelerate decarbonization. The director instilled the idea that adopting such measures could empower the global population to “make this decade one that we take pride in.” 

Fossil fuel direct subsidies soared to a record $1.3 trillion in the last year, driven by support measures in response to the cost-of-living crisis, as stated by Georgieva. When factoring in indirect subsidies, such as those arising from the absence of carbon pricing addressing environmental and health damage, the total surges to $7.1 trillion. 

“We need to go from $900 million where we are now to $5 trillion to make decarbonization a reality. The question is, is $5 trillion, a lot of money? Well, it’s obviously not a little but put $5 trillion next to $7.1 trillion in direct and indirect subsidies, or next to the size of the world economy, which is over $100 trillion,” the director outlined. 

She added: “I think we should be brave and say yes, it can be done, except it will be only done if we get the private sector to move faster and especially move faster in the developing world where emissions are growing. I’m an optimist; I have seen gradually moving on blended finance in a meaningful way.”

Emphasizing the significance of climate finance, the IMF chief affirmed that when considering all nationally determined contributions for this decade, they would result in only an 11 percent reduction in emissions. 

To uphold the commitment to limiting the temperature increase to 1.5 degrees Celsius, it would instead require contributions ranging between 25 and 50 percent, as highlighted by Georgieva.
Meanwhile, private funds currently contribute 40 percent to climate finance. To meet emission targets, this figure must escalate to 80 or 90 percent.
Despite climate risks being “macro-critical” and impacting economies, communities, and households, ultimately leading to financial instability, the director highlighted that transitioning to the new climate economy presents  “unique opportunities” for green growth and job creation. 

While the world economy has demonstrated resilience during challenges such as the pandemic and global conflicts, Georgieva, however, acknowledged that the IMF recognizes the current growth rate as “slow.” 

The organization is forecasting a modest 3 percent year-on-year growth rate for the next five years, nearly a full percentage point below the average of 3.8 percent observed in the preceding decade. 

The director expressed concerns that geopolitical tensions might exacerbate economic fragmentation amid a global climate crisis. This situation has left the entity “very concerned” about the growing inequality both within and across countries.
There exists a striking contrast between economies with a robust capacity to cope and low-income countries, where many have become “way more vulnerable” to climate devastation whil

African nations seek fair climate financing at COP28

Updated 02 December 2023

African nations seek fair climate financing at COP28

RIYADH: Developing countries in Africa have urged developed nations to ensure equitable climate change financing for the implementation of adaptation and mitigation projects to address the global crisis, as highlighted by various officials participating in the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai. 

On the second day of the COP28 summit, President of the Central African Republic Faustin-Archange Touadéra emphasized that developed countries, being the primary polluters, should bear the cost of climate change. “When it comes to determining who should pay for the climate bill, the answer is, bearing in mind the gap between developed countries, which are the primary polluters, and poor countries, it would be logical for the former to finance the mitigation process," stressed Touadéra. 

Also speaking on the second day, President of Equatorial Guinea Obiang Nguema Mbasogo echoed this sentiment. He emphasized that “it is not enough, in our view, for developed countries to simply wring their hands and make empty promises.”  

“Rather, they need to fulfill their commitments and obligations under the Paris Agreement, which we achieved at COP21, and ensure the rollout and implementation of tangible, concrete action to mitigate the adverse impact of climate change,” the president added. 

Building on this, Côte d'Ivoire Vice President Tiemoko Meyliet Koné urged partners to mobilize more resources for the adaptation of African countries to the effects of climate change and to ensure financing for the continent’s energy transition. 

“Notwithstanding this, there is a need to avoid a situation in which finance for energy transition increases the debt of countries,” Koné emphasized.  

This plea comes as Africa, one of the regions with the highest rates of carbon capture and oxygen release globally, experiences minimal benefits, as highlighted by Mbasogo. 

“Africa, which bears the least responsibility in terms of emissions, is responsible for just 4 percent of global emissions. Unfortunately, Africa is a primary victim of the direct impacts of climate change,” Touadéra underlined during his speech. 

Exhibition World Bahrain wins World’s Leading New Exhibition and Convention Centre 2023 award

Updated 02 December 2023

Exhibition World Bahrain wins World’s Leading New Exhibition and Convention Centre 2023 award

DUBAI: Exhibition World Bahrain (EWB) secured the World’s Leading New Exhibition and Convention Centre 2023 award at the World Travel Awards 2023, according to an official statement.

The award was presented to Dr. Nasser Qaedi, CEO of the Bahrain Tourism and Exhibitions Authority (BTEA), during the World Travel Awards 2023 Grand Final Gala Ceremony, which took place at Burj A-Arab in Dubai on Friday. The award was handed out in the presence of Philip Joseph Pierre, the prime minister of Saint Lucia, tourism ministers, and travel elites across the globe.

EWB captured the highest number of votes, clinching the internationally recognized award from Bharat Mandapam, India, and Takina Wellington Convention and Exhibition Centre, New Zealand.

With this win, "Bahrain has further cemented its reputation as the leading global hub for the meetings industry (also known as the MICE industry) due to EWB’s versatility, with its ultramodern amenities and innovative services that cater to all types of events," the statement said. 

Winning the award coincides with EWB’s first anniversary and celebrates a remarkable set of milestones. The venue is a sought-after destination for prestigious events, having hosted large-scale exhibitions, conventions, conferences, grand weddings, live concerts, product launches, seminars and much more.

EWB is strategically nestled within Bahrain’s vibrant Sakhir area, the kingdom’s up-and-coming hub for events, sports, and entertainment. The modern Arabesque structure is adjacent to Bahrain International Circuit, the home of Formula One and motorsport in the Middle East; Al-Dana Amphitheatre, the newest live entertainment destination in the region; and the soon-to-be developed Bahrain International Sports City, with easy access to the new Bahrain International Airport, over 18,000 hotel rooms across the island, and a wide range of attractions and dining experiences.

“It has been a privilege to receive this coveted award at the WTA ceremony. This remarkable accomplishment reaffirms EWB’s exceptional performance and continuous strides in the MICE industry, which is aligned with Bahrain’s tourism strategy 2022-2026 objectives to position Bahrain as a key regional player in business tourism and host major international exhibitions and conventions, increasing the tourism contribution to GDP, (increasing) the number of target markets, and diversifying the tourism product,” said Nasser Qaedi, CEO of BTEA. 

“With the implementation of mega tourism projects, the kingdom of Bahrain is solidifying its position as one of the most sought-after destinations in the next five years, backed by well-developed infrastructure, unique attractions, and enticing promotional packages offering travel experiences and accommodations in the kingdom’s most prominent hotels,” Dr. Qaedi added. 

EWB will host the ninth World Forum on Gastronomy Tourism in 2024, the world’s largest gastronomy tourism event.

Global leaders accelerate pace for decarbonization at COP28

Updated 02 December 2023

Global leaders accelerate pace for decarbonization at COP28

DUBAI: Capitalizing on the positive momentum from the opening day of the UN Climate Change Conference in Dubai, global leaders, including heads of state and governments from over 117 countries, gathered at Expo City to set ambitious goals for transitioning toward more ecological and less carbon-intensive economies.  

The boost to the mood was spurred by the announcement on Nov. 30 activating the “loss and damage fund” — a financial mechanism designed to assist countries affected by climate change. This initiative was endorsed last year during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt, with the specific operational details ironed out just hours before the commencement of COP28.  

The operationalization of the “loss and damage fund” appears to have instilled a lot of confidence among participants at COP28, including leaders such as Kenyan President William Ruto, who welcomed the announcement as a sign of progress.  

“We are seeing signs of progress for the first time. The ‘loss and damage fund’ is now being operationalized with real money. The conversation here has changed dramatically. I think there is a renewed commitment to making sure that we match action with what we’ve seen many times,” Ruto told Arab News.  

He mentioned that he is aware of one of the problems associated with past meetings on climate change: there is rarely any follow-up to the lofty statements made during these gatherings.  

“The accusation has been (that) we talk too much and there are no results. But I am very impressed with what I am seeing; there is now tangible progress being made. And hopefully, by the end of this COP, we will not only have significant resources deployed but also serious commitments made,” Ruto said.  

African initiatives  

Even though it ranks at the bottom of the list of continents in terms of carbon emissions, Africa has been at the receiving end of the negative impacts of climate change, especially through cycles of alternating prolonged droughts and flash floods.  

In such a scenario, it is hardly surprising to see a large African delegation at COP28, and many African nations are now taking the lead in speaking up for themselves and launching their own initiatives. For instance, Ruto informed that Kenya was all set to announce a number of new initiatives.  

He added: “We will be launching later today (Friday), with France, an agreement that will give us the opportunity to discuss taxation as a new mechanism for bringing resources for sorting out climate change that is threatening the whole globe. Secondly, we are also having a serious conversation about the Africa Green Industrialization Initiative to unlock the huge potential and opportunities that exist in Africa for green manufacturing, which is, if I may say, the silver bullet for growth into the future.”  

Even on the issue of finance, which has blighted practically every single COP summit, Ruto seemed optimistic. “We need billions of dollars for climate adaptation, which is precisely why we are having a conversation about money already committed, and we are seeing traction in that money being released. That’s number one. Number two, we are looking at an opportunity where we have all agreed on a new international financial architecture that is, again, going to be much more fit for purpose with additional resources, with more money. And then number three, we are looking at new avenues of raising money, including carbon taxation and taxation on industries that will get more people on board,” Ruto said.  

Croatian Prime Minister Andrej Plenković said that the main objective of this COP is to expedite investments in green transition. “The main objectives here seem to be to speed up the investments in energy efficiency, to speed up the investments in the energy transition and also the diminishment of the use of the fossil fuels.”  

There were some substantive declarations on Nov. 30 but Plenković expressed his expectation that, over the course of the next couple of days, as confidence builds, “there will be more money available.” 

For Plenković, besides finance, another key development at COP28 is the global stocktaking that is taking place where various countries make a statement on where they stand currently vis-a-vis their commitments under the Paris Agreement for curbing their carbon emissions. 

“I believe that the exercise of global stocktaking is a necessary requirement for phasing out carbon in a fashion that is timely, intelligent, swift and systematic. I think that the political will is here and that a lot of ambition in order to fulfill, first of all, the Paris Agreement objectives. And I think the awareness has been really raised to the maximum level,” Plenković told Arab News.  

He said that his own country is moving rapidly toward a green transition across various sectors. “Well, we are investing heavily at the local level because, in a global sense, we are not a country that is polluting a lot. Our emissions are very low. On the contrary, they are below the thresholds that we have. But we are doing maximum to increase our investments in energy transition and energy efficiency.”  

The Croatian prime minister emphasized on the tourism sector because his country ranks as the 18th destination in the world in terms of guests, with the arrival of 20 million tourists. This figure is significant for a nation of less than 4 million people. “We put this in the context of global development goals. Therefore, all of our investments are aimed at balancing economic growth, maintaining a protected environment, and reducing emissions,” Plenković said.  

He added that the EU was very deeply engaged with climate change, not just internally but also at a global level. “There is no European Council that passes without climate as an issue and I think that we are really committed to provide as much as we can, both in terms of institutional framework investments and support to the countries that are in need,’’ Plenković explained.  

Funding gap

However, not everyone seemed content with the developments and the pace of change. Miguel Ceara Hatton, minister of environment and natural resources of the Dominican Republic, said he is very concerned about the “loss and damage fund” proving to be inadequate. “We understand that there is not enough money for the 183 countries. If we talk about this, $100 billion is not enough. If we have to change our way of production, consumption and transportation, then we need much more than what is currently there, especially if we are talking about 183 countries,” Hatton told Arab News.  

He added: “This crisis, the climate crisis is occurring at the same time in all countries in the world. So, for that reason, everybody needs money at the same time in order to get the transformation.” 

Hatton felt the problem is that, in the end, each government has to be prepared to finance the changes. “But also, we try to get money from outside of the country, which is not going to be enough. But, in any case, we have to do the transformation. That’s the point, and that is adaptation,” he explained. 

The Dominican Republic currently faces several challenges due to the climate crisis, Hatton informed. “The main problem is that we have a severe growth of Saragossa, a seaweed that is growing due to warmer seas. We also have the issues of transition of our energy and transportation. These are the three main things that we have to resolve in order to advance in the (fight against) climate change,” he said.  

Despite the issues, Hatton said that he stays positive. He added: “Yes, we are optimistic. Yesterday (Friday) was a good day. And I think that we are moving. Not so far, not so quickly. But we are moving very slowly. Very slowly. But I hope to gain speed.”  

The optimism despite challenges was also shared by Dan Smith, director of the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, a think-tank that specializes in the study of conflicts and wars around the world.  

“Events like COP are very important. But don’t expect anything to be revolutionized next week, next month, or even next year. Probably in a year’s time when COP29 comes, we will still be saying, look, we have to be more aware of this linkage. We have to do more about it, and we have to grip the problem better. But the awareness is rising,” Smith told Arab News.  

He said the change in policy is visible. For example, more and more UN missions, international agencies, and indeed governments have advised them specifically on the link of climate and security attached to their operations. “So, there is progress. It’s slow. That’s not enough, but it’s something that’s good,” he explained.  

Smith said that there was a direct connection between climate change and conflicts, a hypothesis that his institute has been studying for decades. “I think that maybe 10 or 15 years ago, we believed that there would be a connection between climate change and increased risk of conflict. Today, it is no longer speculation.”  

Unfortunately, he said the hypothesis turned out to be correct, and “it is very clear that there is an increasing number of armed conflicts in which the impact of climate change plays a part in creating the conditions.”  

“It also plays a part in making some conflicts harder to resolve. It makes it difficult sometimes for the UN operations in the way it should, where you have extreme weather events happening. It also offers a chance for the insurgents, the militia, and the jihadists to exploit that, too. Very often they are the first providers that are the first ones to come when there’s a flood, and then they actually increase their recruitment as a result,” he said.  

Despite the positive mood around, for some NGOs (non-governmental organizations) like Terre Policy Centre, a Pune-based environmental policy organization, the real challenge lies in the day after COP28 gets over. “The issue of implementation and activation of all that has been said at the climate summit,” said Vinita Apte, chairperson of Terre Policy Centre.  

“Today (Friday), we heard Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi, who gave a very good speech about green credit initiatives that India is launching. We have also seen many other leaders make major announcements. I always see people like the presidents and prime ministers come, and they give their statements and then they leave. Little of what is said is implemented and ultimately, it is for the common people around the world to deal with the aftereffects of climate change. But at least the governments should ensure that they help the populations and the NGOs deal with the challenges and provide finance,” Apte told Arab News.