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Holiday season poses security concerns for UAE organizations  

87% of UAE organizations experienced an increase in cyber threats since the onset of the pandemic and as a consequence, 67% experienced downtime

83% of these report that downtime was during peak season (national holiday, religious festival, etc.) 90% percent of organizations are anticipating increase in consumer demand during the 2021 holiday season Cyber threats will target supply chain, e-commerce, and travel

McAfee Enterprise and FireEye today released Cybercrime in a Pandemic World: The Impact of COVID-19 research, revealing the imminent need for organizations in the UAE, and across the globe, to prioritize and strengthen their cybersecurity architecture. The findings indicate that during the pandemic, 87% of UAE organizations experienced increased cyber threats, with 83% experiencing downtime due to a cyber incident during a peak season. As the holiday season approaches, supply chain and logistics, e-commerce and retail, and the travel industry see predictable increases in consumer and business activity, making them more vulnerable to cyber threats and leaving UAE businesses, employees, and consumers’ data at risk.  

 Heightened Focus on Key Industries

In addition to increased consumer spending, the holiday season sees a significant impact on industries coping with the increase in consumer demands. 90% percent of organizations are anticipating a moderate to a substantial increase in demand during the 2021 holiday season. This year, the “everything shortage” is real – from a shortage in the workforce to limited supplies to lack of services to deliver goods.  This creates an urgency for organizations to have actionable security plans and to effectively contain and respond to threats.

  •  Supply Chain & Logistics

According to BCI’s Supply Chain Resilience Report 2021, 27.8% of organizations reported more than 20 supply chain disruptions during 2020, up from just 4.8 percent reporting the same number in 2019. The loss of manufacturing and logistics capacity and employee power, paired with increasing demand for goods, has created the perfect attack vector for cybercriminals: a potentially weak and vulnerable infrastructure to break through. Supply chain managers must identify risks, understand the potential downstream effects of a security breach or cyberattack, and prepare response plans so that they can act quickly in the event of an incident.

  • Ecommerce & Retail

According to Adobe’s 2021 Digital Economy Index, global online spending is expected to increase by 11% in 2021 to $910 billion during the holiday season. With store closures and increases in online shopping, along with limited product availability and concerns about shipping, this industry is faced with more threats than before. According to McAfee Enterprise COVID-19 dashboard, the global retail industry accounts for 5.2% of the total detected cyber threats. Such threats include compromised payment credentials and cloud storage, as well as other forms of retail fraud and theft.

  • Travel

Cyber threats aren’t new to the travel industry – airports, airlines, travel sites, and ride-sharing apps have been victims in years past. However, this industry has been in a holding pattern because of travel restrictions. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), coronavirus-related loss estimates for 2020 total $137.7 billion—with total industry losses in 2020-2022 expected to reach $201 billion. As the demand for holiday travel will increase over the coming months, the reality is that cybercriminals are following the trends of limited flight options due to labor shortages, supply chain issues, new travel bans, and vaccination requirements, and profiting from vulnerabilities as much as they can.

What Organizations Need to Know

While IT professionals in the UAE know cyber threats have intensified, the findings prove that organizations have not effectively prioritized security during COVID:

  • 34% have had their technology and security budgets reduced
  • 57% believe the company can place more emphasis on a plan to prevent cybersecurity issues
  • 84% find maintaining a fully staffed security team/SOC even more challenging during peak periods

 Addressing Emerging Threats

There are ways for organizations to be proactive and actionable against cybercrime, such as implementing security measures and industry-wide cybersecurity requirements, providing cybersecurity awareness training for employees, and developing prevention and response plans. In addition, enterprises and commercial businesses can implement cloud-delivered security with MVISION Unified Cloud Edge (UCE) and FireEye Extended Detection and Response (XDR).