DUBAI, Oct. 14 (Xinhua) -- As cyber attacks in the Gulf Arab region mount, IT security and anti-virus software are in the center of interest at the largest information technology fair in the Middle East, which kicked off Sunday.
The five-day Gulf Information Technology and Exhibition, known as GITEX, now in its 32nd year, showcases the entire spectrum of modern information technology, from Apple smart phones to the latest zip-software. Over 3,500 suppliers from over 54 countries are present. Some 1,000 new product launches are expected to happen, according to the fair's organizer Dubai World Trade Center.
The main focus at the fair is more than ever IT security and data recovery as the Gulf Arab region moved to the center of global cyber attacks recently. Anti-virus software companies like Symantec or McAfee from the United States and Russia's Kaspersky run among the largest presences at GITEX, demonstrating the latest software innovation of security solutions. According to the exhibitors' list, 10 IT firms from Iran also have a stand at this year's GITEX.
Cyber attacks aim to disrupt PCs, IT networks or servers and can be conducted by e-Mails, electronic file transfers and by simple data storage instruments like USB sticks.
According to a study done by U.S. data storage company EMC, some 82 percent of the companies surveyed in the Middle East, Turkey and Morocco are not really confident that they are able to recover lost data. In addition, 64 percent of the surveyed firms said they lost data or suffered downtime in the last 12 months.
Earlier on Saturday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta accused Iran of being responsible for recent cyber attacks on oil and gas companies in the Gulf Arab region. A virus called Shamoon paralyzed 30,000 computers running with Microsoft Windows NT at Saudi's state-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco and was discovered on Aug. 16.
Iranian nuclear facilities have also been frequently attacked and disrupted in the past by computer viruses. Tehran accused the United States and Israel of having launched the attacks. Iran claimed that meanwhile its cyber defense had been upgraded and being able to sterilize any further attacks in the future.
The United States and Israel accused Tehran of secretly developing nuclear weapon under the disguise of its nuclear energy program and frequently threatened to bombard them. Analysts suspect the wave of cyber attacks in the Middle East represents a clandestine cyber war which is already in full swing.
The need for permanent upgrades of anti-virus programs as well as the necessity for "water-proofed" disaster recovery systems at firms, government bodies and sensitive sites such as oil rigs or electricity grids represents for companies a huge economic dilemma as they have to operate cost-efficiently and secure at the same time. The 32nd GITEX expects some 130,000 professional visitors and runs through Thursday, Oct. 18.