A top concern for UAE executives has been the potential for a cyberattack. And in fact, as of September, according to Telecommunications Regulations Authority (TRA) statistics, 274 cyber-attacks (involving fraud and phishing aimed to leak information) have gone on to target the UAE; mainly, they aimed at government and private sector websites.
Though in recent time there’s been a decline in threats, experts suggest that 2019 will be another defining year for cyber security, as the number and sophistication of cyber-attacks are set to continue to rise and have significant real-world impacts, especially in the Middle East. The UAE just happens to be the second most targeted country in the region for Internet-related crimes.
Dr Anwar Bin Mohammad Gargash, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs, told Gulf News that “the number of attacks on the country were expected given the UAE’s progress and dependence on technology in all its spheres as a consequence of increased connectivity to the internet.” Cyber-attacks are “an issue (an often-overlooked factor in an information security program) that has to be addressed collectively,” he said.
To drive awareness and implementation of best practices in cyber security, October has been dubbed international Cyber Security Awareness Month (CSAM) in numerous countries around the world, including in the UAE. This is a month that brings awareness about computer hackers who are using increasingly sophisticated network attack methods to commit various types of cybercrime. During this month, the focus is on addressing the issue from different angles, and especially, in making companies and organizations realize that educating the entire staff in cybersecurity is one of the greatest investments against been vulnerable to an attack. An organization’s overall security is only as strong as its weakest link, and that link is often the end user, and cybersecurity breaches are often the result of human factors. The more internet users are aware of the risks of cybercrime, the more likely they will be to take preventive measures to protect themselves and others.
For years now, cybersecurity has been a top priority of UAE government; so how is the UAE protecting its citizens and residents in this field? Well, His Highness Maktoum bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, launched the “Dubai Cyber Security Strategy” that aims to strengthen Dubai’s position as a world leader in innovation, safety and security. In the field of cybersecurity, the aim is to facilitate the detection, prevention, education, awareness and response to cyberthreats and incidents; the UAE authorities have conducted awareness campaigns to highlight cybersecurity threats and suggested voluntary preventive measures to be adopted.
There are also initiatives to make it easier to Report a Cybercrime: Dubai Police has launched ecrime.ae, an online platform for members of the public to report cyber-crimes.