Oil and gas organizations and other companies in the Middle East face a rising number of cyberattacks and security breaches. Darkmatter, a cybersecurity firm located in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), recently released its semiannual June Cybersecurity Report, which details how cyberattacks are affecting the Middle East region.

"Breaches in the Middle East are both widespread and frequently undetected. They also increasingly appear to be state-sponsored," the report says.

The complex politics of the region means that cyberattacks are being more frequently used as a weapon against adversaries. 

In 2017, for example, a malware attacked a safety system at Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia's largest oil company. Foreign Policy magazine reported that there is some evidence that points to the attack being carried out by Iran, Saudi Arabia's regional adversary. 

The Darkmatter report said that "the UAE's digital ecosystem offers an expanded attack service for cybercrime. The UAE has the second-highest smartphone adoption rate globally at 85% after Singapore and the nation is one of the world's most interconnected countries." 

The UAE is the third largest economy in the Middle East and also has a strong finance sector, which makes it a prime target for cyberattacks. Oil and gas enterprises there face the greatest risks. 

The report notes that to mitigate the risks of cyberattacks, organizations in the region should raise awareness of security risks in their companies, use multi-factor authentication procedures, and change passwords when new software is added to a company's network. Outdated software could also expose companies to security threats.

Cyberattacks could also be a method of "hybrid warfare." Hamas, the Islamist organization that controls the Gaza Strip, usually uses rockets to attack Israel but also plans cyber attacks targeting Israeli technology. In May, Israel bombed a building in Gaza where the Hamas hackers were allegedly located. 

China and Russia are among the biggest offenders of cybercrime, according to reports. North Korea and Iran have also committed a high number of cyber attacks.