Over 400,000 cyberattacks reported in Oman last year

Oman Saturday 27/February/2021 21:40 PM
By: Times News Service
Over 400,000 cyberattacks reported in Oman last year
The attacks, however, were less numerous last year than the year before when their number was close to half a million.

Muscat: More than 400,000 cybersecurity attacks that targeted Omani online services were dealt with in 2020, according to a new report released by the Ministry of Transport, Communications and Information Technology (MTCIT).

417,021 attacks were revealed and dealt with by cybersecurity teams in Oman last year, compared to nearly half a million (483,794) attempts in 2019. Government and core institutions dealt with 1,461 cyberattacks in 2020, down from 1,779 in 2019.

There were also 107 Threat Notification and Alert Services (TNAS) sent out to groups targeted by cyberattacks last year, two fewer than the previous year, and cases involving digital evidence handled by the Digital Evidence Lab touched 128, compared to 162 in 2019.

Digital analysis was conducted across 671 objects (inclusive of desktop PCs, phones, hard drives and laptops) in 2020, down from 813 in 2019.

94 percent of families had internet services in Oman last year, while 96 percent have access to computer devices (inclusive of desktop PCs, laptops and tablets). 95 percent of families claim ownership of smartphones. However, only 14 percent of families use smartwatches and smart cameras, the report went on to add.
92 percent of people aged 18 and above used their devices to make use of communication technology such as email and text messaging services, making it the number one reason to access a computer or smartphone.

This was followed by the use of copy and paste tools (84 percent), the searching, downloading and installation of application or software, as well as modifying their settings (67 percent), with the installation and maintenance of security software was carried out by 57 percent of users.

49 percent of people most used their devices to transfer and copy files between two devices, and this was followed by activities relating to installing and handling new devices. 25 percent of people used their devices to solve arithmetic equations relating to data, while 24 percent of individuals spent their time on devices to create presentations. Writing specialised computer programmes using programming language accounted for the reason eight percent of respondents used their systems.

Among the same age groups, WhatsApp was the most popular social media site, used by 92 percent of people, compared to 89 percent in 2019. YouTube came in second (81 percent in 2020, compared to 70 percent in 2019), followed by Facebook (56 percent, up from 49 percent), and IMO (47 percent, down from 52 percent).

Instagram seemed to lag behind, with it only being used by 44 percent of users in 2020, a five percent increase from 2019, with Twitter coming in next (25 percent, up by two percent). Snapchat was used by about 24 percent of users, up from 22 percent in 2019. 10 percent of people used LinkedIn in 2020, compared to seven percent in 2019. Pinterest amounted to six percent, while other blogging sites accounted for a further four percent.

77 percent of internet usage activities were related to downloading games, pictures, movies, videos and music, the same as the amount of time spent online researching or looking for information. Email accounted for 58 percent of internet time, followed by online banking services (38 percent), interaction with e-government services, and online storage (both at 34 percent).

E-commerce activities accounted for 31 percent of usage, followed by accessing the internet to search for job opportunities, or for online study, both of which accounted for 28 percent. Using the internet to book hotels or browse travel-related services represented 25 percent of net usage.

The number one reason for people being unable to use the internet with a lack of e-literacy. 38 percent of people admitted not being computer literate was why they couldn’t go online. 31 percent of respondents did not use the internet because they did not feel they know how to use it will or because they had no requirement to go online. A further 30 percent said they did not own a computer or phone that supported internet connections, 23 percent avoided going online because of high internet costs, and 14 percent simply said they didn’t have enough time to use the net.

Other reasons pertaining to a lack of internet access were a lack of or poor internet coverage, concerns over privacy and security, and socio-cultural reasons. Two percent of people said they required special devices to access the internet. Among the most frequently visited sites by people in Oman are Google, YouTube, Padlet, Microsoft, Wikipedia, Yahoo, Netflix and Livcom.

Around 2,763 services provided by 74 government institutions are provided online, including 89 related to information, 361 interactive services, and 2,313 involving procedures. 20 percent of these procedures listed online need to be completed manually, 45 percent are semi-electronic services, and the remaining 35 percent are integrated e-services.

According to the report, e-readiness among government services stood at 55 percent, while 60 percent of e-services have reached maturity. Research and development spending in the fields of technology and engineering decreased to 39.6 percent in 2018, compared to 43.6 percent in 2017.

2.5 percent of all students pursuing their academics in 2019/20 are enrolled in ICT (information, communications and technology) majors.