Complex Made Simple

Crime superhighway: You’re being robbed without you even knowing it!

You could be laying down on the beach while listening to your favourite music.

You could also be relaxing while planning a trip to Hawaii and thinking of the beautiful moments you will spend there.

You could also be just sleeping and dreaming beautifully.

But a nightmare is all the while brewing!

Wake up! You’re being robbed!

The bandits are out and about and in 2018, there is no stopping them, it so seems.

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$1bn UAE losses to cybercrime in 2017

Recent statistics from Norton by Symantec estimate that 3 million UAE consumers lost over $1bn to cybercrime in 2017.

The report showed that over half of UAE’s adult online population experienced cybercrime in 2017 with average losses amounting to $182 per adult.

“The largest average financial losses were due to credit card fraud ($1,051), falling for a technical support scam ($476), data breaches ($341) and compromised account passwords ($157),” said the report.

The report attributed the occurrence of cybercrime partly to victims using the same password across all accounts while some of them saving their passwords on a file in their smartphones.

Meanwhile, Brigadier Tariq Al-Ghoul, the director of the directorate of criminal investigation and investigation was quoted as saying that Abu Dhabi Police investigated 206 blackmail cases in 2017.

“The blackmail cases formed part of the 774 cybercrime cases investigated by authorities in Abu Dhabi in 2017,” according to a media report.

The World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risk Report 2018 reveals how much cyber risks have intensified especially in 2017.

“Notable examples were the WannaCry attack, which affected 300,000 computers across 150 countries, and NotPetya, which caused quarterly losses of $300m for a number of impacted businesses,” according to the WEF report.

Watch out in 2018!

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Cybercrime: 2018’s top concern

Cybersecurity is among the top concerns for executives in the UAE and the greater Middle East, according to statistics from the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Global Risk Report 2018.

John Drzik, president, Global Risk and Digital at Marsh, was quoted as saying that the “scale and sophistication of attacks is going to grow as the cyber-exposure of businesses increases with the proliferation of interconnected devices, widening the attack surface.”

Meanwhile, IT Governance, an industry news platform, reveals that the financial services industry and the public sector both fear sophisticated, harmful cyber threats in 2018.

“In 2018, organisations are looking at ‘when’ they will be attacked, not ‘if’,” it said.

Also, technology firm A10 Networks was quoted by CNBC as saying 2018 could see larger more frequent attacks than 2017.

Who is mostly at risk?

A10 Networks’ founder and chief executive Lee Chen told CNBC that cryptocurrencies could become the main target of hackers as they gain in popularity.

“I think the digital transformation is the underlying motivation for hackers … So expect the frequency, the size, the volume of hacks to continue to increase in 2018,” he said.

Media reports quote Mahmoud Mounir, regional director at Secureworks, saying that ransomware attacks on enterprises are expected the rise, as companies can afford to pay higher ransoms than individuals.

“Criminals will continue to become more sophisticated, better resourced, and more patient, and will look to target businesses with higher value ransoms,” he said.

Mounir says that attacks on banks will remain a threat especially as criminals engage in online banking fraud as one of means of generating income.

“Some organisations will focus on non-European and US banks, which are perceived to have weaker security controls and less robust business processes than most of the major Western banks,” he said.

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Can anything be done?

DarkMatter CEO Faisal Al Bannai says entities need to follow “a cyber security life-cycle, which is a multi-stage approach encompassing planning, prevention, detection, protection, and response to cyber incidents.”

“Should organisations not have the expertise to achieve a heightened level of cyber security in-house, they should outsource this function to companies that can offer the necessary skills. Cyber security specialists have deep understanding and can fill this void,” he added.

Anwar Bin Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, was quoted at a cybercrime event in Abu Dhabi as saying that the number of attacks in the UAE will  increase.

“Incidents like these ransomware cyber attack demonstrate the urgent need for us to act jointly to create an effective international framework that can help us deal with the challenge of cyber terrorism and its devastating consequences,” he said.