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Top-8 Cybersecurity Breaches in Oman

Learn about the state of cybersecurity in Oman and the 8 biggest breaches in this country.
Cybersecurity threats are on the rise and they are more fierce than ever nowadays. There are 450,000 new malicious software every day and they target all kinds of users: individuals, governments, education platforms, healthcare, small businesses, and enterprises. Breaches gain not only financial and reputational consequences but also can result in physical damage and strained diplomatic relationships.

Because of that, numerous countries have implemented cybersecurity committees and education teams. Oman has managed to become the third most-prepared country in the Arab world when it comes to cyberattacks. Their Cyber Defense Centre was established only in 2020 but it reached great results already, as we can see.

We have found 8 cybersecurity breaches in Oman. Those are stories of big losses and great success but there is something to learn from every case.
#1 Oman's Largest Insurance Provider Co SAOG Suffered a Ransomware Attack
Oman United Insurance is one of the biggest insurance companies in Oman with more than 35 years of experience on the market. They provide both life- and non-life insurance for healthcare, travel, motor, home insurance, property, and marine insurance, etc.

In 2020, they suffered a ransomware attack and lost some data from 10/12/2019 to 1/1/2020. The hackers got into the main server and encrypted some of the data. The company had to stop its operations for a day to restore from the attack and download the data from the backup.

Luckily, they did not have to pay the ransom but this kind of attack is very common in the Arabian world and companies had to pay millions in ransom before.
#2 Oman's Bank Muscat Suffered an Attack from a Turkish Hacker
Muscat is the largest finance provider in Osman that takes care of corporate banking, retail banking, investment banking, treasury, private banking, and asset management. They have over 150 branches, have representative offices in Dubai, UAE, Singapore, Saudi Arabia, and Kuwait. Their revenue hit $1,5 billion in 2018.

In 2013, they suffered a massive fraud. The Turkish hacker, Ercan Findikoglu, got into prepaid debit card payment processors, compromised 12 prepaid debit cards, and increased the account balances. The stolen data was passed on to hackers worldwide and together they managed to withdraw 39 million dollars from ATMs in 24 countries. It took them 36,000 transactions and 10 hours.

The shares in the bank Muscat dropped significantly and represented 10.5% of Bank Muscat's estimated earnings for 2013. The hacker was arrested in 2015 in Germany and pleaded guilty.
#3 Hundreds of WhatsApp Accounts of Oman Users Have Been Compromised
WhatsApp is a popular messenger and its users have faced more breaches than they should have, to be honest. The app is used by older people who know little about cybersecurity and often become the victims of phishing, ransom, or other types of attacks.

Oman faced massive WhatsApp hacking in 2018 and 2020. They got phone calls from telecom companies saying that they will block users' accounts if the latter do not share the one-time password. Obviously, the scammers were hiding behind the telecom services. They blocked the accounts after they received the passwords. In 2018, they used the passwords to break into the account and send messages asking for money to the user's contact list.

This type of hack is easily identifiable. Just do not tell your one-time passwords to anyone because they usually do not ask for it. Telecom services also do not call from unidentifiable numbers. However, older users do not understand it. The majority also panics because the hacker creates a feeling of urgency. As one of the victims said, they did a lot of work via the messenger and depended on it greatly so they would not recover from losing the account.
#4 Portal of Oman's Ministry of Education Got Hacked
Oman's Ministry of Education takes care of kindergartens and schools. Their mission is to prepare a generation that can develop the country socially and economically.

In 2017, their educational portal was hacked. It took the ministry two days to have the website up and running again. They stated that they would take measures towards the ones behind the hack.

Social media was overwhelmed by the incident. There were numerous tweets that the possible hacker was a student that wanted the ministry to improve the education system and claimed so on his account before the attack.
#5 Moroccan Hackers Hijacked Google Oman Domain
In 2013, Google's Oman domain was defaced. The hackers gained access to Oman Telecommunication Company and used a DNS attack to redirect users to a page that said: "0h0h0h! U get FUCKED BY! And Z0mbi3_Ma SQL_Master for more: [email protected] . / Morocco". As soon as Google learned about the attack, they restored their original page.

Z0mbi3_Ma SQL_Master are Moroccan website defacers and have previously hacked the National Security Agency (NSA).
#6 Five Governmental Websites Were Compromised by a Teenager
In 2014, five Oman government websites, including the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA) and the General Directorate of Traffic, were hacked by a teenager. He broke down traffic.gov.om, tra.gov.om, registry.om, and omantel.om.

The reason for the hack was teens' dissatisfaction with the telecom services. He said that he paid a lot of money for the telecom subscription but still got very poor Internet. He was right though - the country had the poorest Internet services in the GCC region because of the long-established duopoly. Other users supported the hacker in his actions. Some of the experts also claimed that governmental websites need more protection.
#7 Omantel Telecom Service Foiled Over 120 Million Cyber Attacks During 2020
Omantel is the first and one of the biggest telecommunication companies in Oman. They also were the first to launch 5G in the country. The company is state-owned on 51%.

In 2020, it has become a major story of success when it comes to cyberattacks. They have faced tens of millions of signaling attacks, distributed denial-of-service (DDOS), web application attacks, and user profiling, endpoint, and behavioral incidents. The staggering 128 million attacks were web application attacks that normally have the highest success rates.

Yet, Omantel was not breached. They take very proactive measures when it comes to cybersecurity and always monitor their systems to avoid breaches. The company claims that they care about customer data, their information, and logical assets too much to let some hackers in.
#8 Hackers Wiped Out Data of The National Detergent Company
The National Detergent Company was established back in 1981 and is now a leading company. Apparently, it is really popular and has a great reputation in Oman. They make detergent powders, liquid detergents, soaps, shampoos, allied laundry aids, and other household cleaners. They also distribute other popular brands.

In 2021, they suffered a cyberattack that wiped out some of their electronic data. Luckily, the company had physical copies so they did not have to disrupt any operations and continued to work as usual. They had to manually go through the documents which slowed them down a little. Having a backup can save the day indeed.
Conclusion
Oman has suffered some rough breaches in the past and started to pay a lot of attention to its cybersecurity. And they succeeded in it. There is nothing that proactive measures and constant monitoring cannot fix.

Thus, if you want to ensure the protection and integrity of your business-related data, you need to invest in regular audits and the creation of a robust security strategy. Feel free to contact the Cyberlands team and use our penetration testing services in order to detect and quickly fix the vulnerabilities of your IT infrastructure.
Cyberlands.io Team