Well certainly the UAE has a lot to lose should it fail to bolster it's cyberdefences, it is certainly in a position to take a leadership role in the Arab world when it comes to developing secure infrastructure.
|UAE should stand sentinel to cement defences against cyber attacks.|
By Samir Salama, 00:00 July 10, 2012
Abu Dhabi: The UAE should stand sentinel to bolster its defences against cyber attacks, a researcher said citing unofficial estimates of billions of dirhams of losses caused by these attacks last year.
In a lecture in Abu Dhabi last night, Laila Hassan Al Otaiba, researcher at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies, warned that the UAE’s connectivity made it “vulnerable to cyber attacks from anywhere and anyone”.
In her lecture, entitled Cyber Warfare and it Impact on the UAE, Al Otaiba said the UAE with 3 million internet users, 2.3 million users of social media, a rate of 235 per cent of mobile use, and 8.1 million online shoppers should always guard against attacks.
Citing a Norton Cybercrime Report that put the UAE’s losses caused by cyber attacks last year at Dh2.3 billion, Al Otaiba said there were no official estimates in this regard.
According to the report, at least two UAE residents a minute are subject to attacks from computer viruses, online scams and phishing attacks.
The total amount of cash stolen from UAE residents last year amounted to Dh770 million, with the time lost sorting out cybercrime cases valued at Dh1.5 billion.
The report said that 76 per cent of UAE residents were victim to cybercrime over the last 12 months — above the average global rate of 65 per cent.
Some of the audience questioned the estimates of the losses, saying that they were meant to promote certain companies’ business in the country..
The most common form of attack in the UAE was via computer viruses, followed by online scams and phishing.
According to Al Otaiba, cyber warfare is Internet-based conflict involving politically or economically motivated attacks on civil and military information and information systems, using electromagnetic waves to disrupt or disable websites, networks and essential services, steal or alter classified data, and criple financial systems — among many other possibilities.
The US and China have been the top source countries for launching external cyber attacks. They together contribute more than half of the cyber attack sources. Other Bric countries — Brazil, Russia and India — also are amongst top sources of external cyber attacks in the region. About 40 external cyber attacks took place per month in the Middle East.
Rajat Mohanty, CEO of Paladion Networks, has said one-third of all cyber attacks last year targeted the ATM and internet banking applications in the Middle East, an industry expert said.
Mohanty said today’s attacks have moved to the application layer from the earlier years of network-based attacks. “The motivation behind the attacks is clearly for financial gains and, therefore, attackers are targeting business applications and web applications.”
He attributed another reason for this problem — Organisations today have more web applications and, hence, encounter more cyber attacks.