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Optimism in Gaza amid indications of reconstruction acceleration

RIYADH: Since the start of the pandemic, a wave of advanced threat campaigns targeting the Middle East have been discovered by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity firm. An APT is an attack campaign in which intruders establish an illicit, long-term presence on a network to mine highly sensitive data. The targets, which are carefully chosen and researched,…

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Optimism in Gaza amid indications of reconstruction acceleration

RIYADH: Since the start of the pandemic, a wave of advanced threat campaigns targeting the Middle East have been discovered by Kaspersky, a global cybersecurity firm.

An APT is an attack campaign in which intruders establish an illicit, long-term presence on a network to mine highly sensitive data. The targets, which are carefully chosen and researched, typically include large enterprises or government networks.

The region has always been a hotbed for such attacks due to geopolitical factors.

Kaspersky researchers, keeping a close eye on the region for APTs, worked on 68 investigative reports related to 29 cyber gangs actively targeting the Middle East since the start of the pandemic.

The researchers issued 49 threat intelligence reports due to investigations associated with cyberattacks on the UAE, which endured the highest number of reports for all Middle Eastern countries.

The second highest was Saudi Arabia with 39 reports, followed by Egypt with 30. Kuwait and Oman had 21 each, while Jordan had 20. Iraq, Qatar and Bahrain had fewer than 20 reports each.

APT attacks primarily targeted government agencies, followed by diplomatic institutions, the education sector, and telecommunication institutions. Other targeted sectors included finance, IT, healthcare, legal, military, and defense.

Some of the APT groups investigated were Oilrig, WIRTE, Lazarus, and Sofacy.

Fatemah Alharbi, a cybersecurity expert and assistant professor at Taibah University, told Arab News: “PowerShell-based malware are utilized by advanced cyberattacks targeting critical infrastructures in Saudi Arabia.”

She said these cybercriminals were sending phishing emails that contained malicious Microsoft Office files impersonating legitimate entities.

To pass the firewall and the email protection techniques, she explained, these rigged files were protected by passwords and compressed as zip files.

“This approach facilitates the mission of these cybercriminals to take full control of the file system and to compromise every single file there. This means they would be able to control the operating system, applications, and data. Assuming the attack is detected, an in-depth analysis and investigation on the file system is highly recommended as a quick response to recover the system and stop the attack.”

Referring to a report by Bitdefender, a cybersecurity technology company, Alharbi said: “Researchers shed light on a well-known APT cyber espionage campaign that targets mainly critical infrastructures in Saudi Arabia.This threat group is called Chafer APT (also known as APT39 or Remix Kitten). The report shows that these cybercriminals rely on social engineering to compromise victims in Saudi Arabia.

“Technically, the attack tricked victims to run a remote administration tool located in the downloads folder, similar to the RAT components used against Turkey and Kuwait back in 2014 and 2018, respectively.”

Despite these threats, Alharbi said the Kingdom’s cybersecurity resources had proven their ability to face such dangers.

“Saudi Arabia is ranked No.1 in the MENA region and Asia and No.2 globally according to the Global Cybersecurity Index issued by the UN’s specialized agency in information and communications technology, the International Telecommunication Union in 2021.”

This indexing evaluates countries periodically based on five main axes: Legal, technical, regulatory, capacity-building, and cooperation. The Kingdom scored advanced points in all of these axes, she said.

Amin Hasbini, head of the global research and analysis team for the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa at Kaspersky, said: “Our cybersecurity experts have always been at the forefront of detecting and reporting the latest APT threats. Our reports are the product of their visibility into the cybersecurity landscape and promptly identify what poses a threat.

“We use these insights to, of course, alert the concerned organizations on time and provide them with the protection as well as intelligence needed against both known and unknown threats. As companies move towards digitization, especially due to the pandemic, it is more important now than ever before to know about the threats that are constantly evolving.”

According to a recent report from Kaspersky and VMWare, working remotely during the pandemic made Saudi employees vulnerable to cyberattacks.

In the VMWare report, a survey of 252 Saudis showed 84 percent of them said that cyberattacks had increased due to working from home.

Alharbi talked about methods to protect users from social engineering threats. “Recently, we see a rise in the number of cyberattacks that are based on social engineering. According to a recent report by PurpleSec, 98 percent of cyberattacks rely on social engineering. Cyber criminals prefer to use social engineering techniques that can expose a victim’s natural inclination to trust easily compared to implementing malwares or any other tools to hack systems.

“For that, organizations must strengthen and diversify their cybersecurity awareness tactics, such as publishing cybersecurity awareness content, in-class training, videos, simulations and tests,” she said.

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Outstanding Performance of NIC Funds Exceeds Expectations

The noticeable performance of the funds outperformed market benchmarks   Hamad Al Humaidi: Mawarid Fund achieved a return of 34.82% outperforming local equities funds in Kuwait. Al Wataniya Fund recorded a good performance with a return of 28.88% bringing the returns to 299.08% since inception Al Darij Fund achieved a return of 22.50% by trading…

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Outstanding Performance of NIC Funds Exceeds Expectations

The noticeable performance of the funds outperformed market benchmarks

 
Hamad Al Humaidi:
Mawarid Fund achieved a return of 34.82% outperforming local equities funds in Kuwait.
Al Wataniya Fund recorded a good performance with a return of 28.88% bringing the returns to 299.08% since inception
Al Darij Fund achieved a return of 22.50% by trading in selective Shariah-compliant shares
Zajil Fund achieved a return of 18.83%
NIC has an active strategic approach to achieve the highest returns on the long term and reduce risks
Following launching of the service, NIC is a market maker in the shares of Boursa Kuwait and Gulf Cable
NIC was one of the first companies to obtain a Market Maker License in Boursa Kuwait
The diversified investment funds managed by National Investments Company (NIC) successfully achieved record performance ratios in the first ten months of 2021 thanks to the pioneering efforts made by its professional team and successful hands-on experience. These results helped NIC maintain its position as one of the leading investment institutions in Kuwait and the region.
NIC, a leading investment company in Kuwait and the region in terms of performance and AUM, announced that the performance of its investment funds outperformed their benchmarks in 2021, despite the ongoing Covid-19 effects on the financial markets.
In a press release, NIC praised the outstanding performance of its investment funds which reflected the sound approach and the prudent management of a work team with extensive expertise and a proven track record of achievements in managing local and regional portfolios and investment funds.
EVP MENA Securities Sector at NIC, Hamad Al Humaidi said that according to the monthly fund information published by Boursa Kuwait Co. on website, Mawarid Industrial and Petroleum Services Fund achieved strong performance and outstanding results, recording a return of 34.82%. Mawarid aims to provide capital appreciation and income to its shareholders by investing in Kuwaiti and Arab Shariah-compliant listed and unlisted equities in the industrial and petroleum service sectors.
He added that Mawarid fund, established in 2006, aims to provide maximum expected return on a risk-adjusted basis by investing in Shariah-compliant listed and unlisted equities in the industrial and petroleum services sectors and provide diversification among the industrial and petroleum services sector in Kuwait and GCC based on liquidity, capital appreciation and dividend yield.
Al Wataniya Fund
Al-Humaidi said that Al Wataniya Fund achieved a return of 28.88% as of end of October 2021, bringing the returns to 299.08% since inception. He added that Al Wataniya maintained its good rank among the large-sized funds category of more than KD 50 million.
He explained that Al Wataniya fund established in 2001, is one of the top-performing local funds that invest in listed and unlisted equities on Boursa Kuwait. The Fund selects good-performing companies from different sectors with the aim of achieving good returns for subscribers. Al Humaidi added that Al Wataniya continues to seize the best investment opportunities and benefit from them.
He said that Al Wataniya performance is excellent compared to the size of net assets of other funds. Al Wataniya is one of the biggest investment funds in Kuwait with a net assets value of KD 160 MN. The Fund also aims to invest in the blue-chip stocks with rewarding returns, solid management and a clear future vision, which greatly resulted in the stability of the level of its dividends and bonuses.
Al Darij Fund
“Established in 2003, Al Darij Fund achieved a return of 22.50% as of end of October 2021. The Fund aims to maximize the expected return by trading primarily in selective listed and unlisted Shariah-compliant equities in Kuwait and GCC markets.” Al Humaidi added.
He said that Al Draij fund aims to achieve the highest returns on a risk-adjusted basis by trading in listed and unlisted Shariah-compliant equities in Kuwait and the GCC and achieving returns for subscribers higher than those of traditional Islamic deposits.
Zajil Fund
Al Humaidi said that Zajil Services & Telecommunications Fund achieved a good return of 18.83% in the first ten months of 2021. The fund established in 2004, aims to achieve maximum expected return to subscribers and to invest in listed and unlisted equities in the services and telecommunications sectors in Kuwait and the Arab region, which abide by Islamic Shariah.
He pointed out that the Fund seeks to achieve capital appreciation and maximum potential return on a risk-adjusted basis by trading equities in the services and telecommunications sectors which abide by Islamic Shariah. It also provides diversification among Kuwaiti and Arab equities in the service and telecommunications sectors based on liquidity, capital appreciation and dividend yield.
Managed by a specialized investment team with extensive experience, the Fund provides a single investment tool with the objective of achieving returns higher than those of traditional Islamic deposits, creating a liquid vehicle for investors wishing to benefit from the potential returns of an investment fund dedicated to Islamic guidelines.
Successful Investment
Al Humaidi expressed his happiness with the good performance of NIC funds achieved in the first ten months of 2021 compared to the same period last year. He pointed out that successful investment requires a number of factors and basic qualifications such as investment experience, professional management and comprehensive and diligent follow-up of all news and decisions that affect the financial markets.
He said that NIC has an active strategic approach to achieve best returns in the long term by reducing the risks of stock markets and maximizing potential returns. This was evident in the performance of NIC funds during 2021.
Market maker
On the other hand, Al Humaidi said that NIC launched successfully the “Market Maker” in Boursa Kuwait starting August 2021. The Boursa Kuwait Co, share was selected to be the first practice of this service, with the Gulf Cable Co. following suite. More companies are expected to be added in the near future.
He added that NIC was one of the first companies to obtain a Market Maker License in Boursa Kuwait, after passing the final tests of Boursa Kuwait Co. following signing the activity practice agreement with Boursa Co.
He added that the Market Maker system has become a cornerstone in the financial markets, contributing to diversifying investment options and addressing the defects that dominated the market when past individual trades were based on rumors and unjustified speculation. It also contributes to attracting more local and foreign institutional investments and restores the ability to quickly liquidate, which is one of the most important functions of financial markets.
Al Humaidi stressed that NIC focuses on understanding the dynamic needs of clients with the objective of improving services and products and identifying appropriate new investment opportunities given the current market conditions. He added that NIC aims to maintain a research-based approach, anticipate trends, improve clients’ investment position and achieve their goals, ensure developing innovative products, expand its business reach, and achieve high-performance results in the coming years.
 

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Kuwait Times Sunday, November 28, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times   Click above icon to download full news paper   The post Kuwait Times Sunday, November 28, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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Kuwait Times Sunday, November 28, 2021

Daily E- Paper – Kuwait Times

 

Click above icon to download full news paper

 

The post Kuwait Times Sunday, November 28, 2021 appeared first on Kuwait Times.

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Israel to ban entry of all foreigners over Omicron variant

Ban, which is pending government approval, will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday.Israel says it will ban the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first nation to shut its borders completely in response to a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant. In a statement on Saturday, Prime…

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Israel to ban entry of all foreigners over Omicron variant

Ban, which is pending government approval, will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday.Israel says it will ban the entry of all foreigners into the country, making it the first nation to shut its borders completely in response to a new and potentially more contagious coronavirus variant.
In a statement on Saturday, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said the ban, pending government approval, would last 14 days.
Officials hope that within that period there will be more information on how effective COVID-19 vaccines are against Omicron, which was first detected in South Africa and has been dubbed a “variant of concern” by the World Health Organization.
“Our working hypotheses are that the variant is already in nearly every country,” Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked told N12’s Meet the Press. “And that the vaccine is effective, although we don’t yet know to what degree.”
The ban will come into effect at midnight between Sunday and Monday. A travel ban on foreigners coming from most African states was imposed on Friday.
Al Jazeera’s Harry Fawcett, reporting from West Jerusalem, called the new measures “extremely stringent” and said they marked a major reversal of a policy that allowed in foreign tourists at the beginning of November.
“They are the result of a late night emergency meeting of the coronavirus cabinet, which took place on Saturday evening after a brief announcement from Naftali Bennett that Israel needed to act very quickly in the midst of all this uncertainty and not risk the progress already gained against the coronavirus.”
The new measures will also require all Israelis entering the country, including those who are vaccinated, to quarantine.

Fawcett said Israelis who are vaccinated will have to quarantine for a minimum of three days, while those who are unvaccinated will have to quarantine for seven days.
He added, “And if coming back from one of the newly red-listed African countries, they will have to go into a government quarantine hotel, until they test negative.”
Separately, Bennett, the Israeli prime minister, said that the Shin Bet counterterrorism agency’s phone-tracking technology will be used to locate carriers of the new variant to curb its transmission to others.
Used on and off since March 2020, the surveillance technology matched virus carriers’ locations against other mobile phones nearby to determine with whom they had come into contact.
Israel’s Supreme Court this year limited the scope of its use after civil rights groups mounted challenges over privacy concerns.
The variant, which has also been detected in Belgium, Botswana, Hong Kong, Italy, Germany and the United Kingdom, has sparked global concern and a wave of travel curbs, although epidemiologists say such restrictions may be too late to stop Omicron from circulating globally.
Israel has so far confirmed one case of Omicron, with seven suspected cases.
The Health Ministry has not said whether the person in the confirmed case was vaccinated. Three of the seven people in the suspected cases were fully vaccinated, the ministry said on Saturday, and three had not returned from travel abroad recently.
About 57 percent of Israel’s 9.4 million population is fully vaccinated, according to the health ministry, which means they have either received a third shot of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine or it has not yet been five months since they received their second dose.
Israel has recorded 1.3 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and more than 8,000 fatalities since the pandemic began.

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