Business | General

Cybercrimes cost UAE more than $600m yearly

More than half of internet users were victims of hackers

  • By Shehab Al Makahleh, Staff Reporter
  • Published: 00:00 December 15, 2011
  • Gulf News

Dubai: Cybercrimes cost the UAE economy over $600 million (Dh2.203 billion) each year, a conference was told yesterday.

Experts at the Black Hat conference on cyber crime in Abu Dhabi said attacks vary from viruses and malware, online harassment, ‘phishing' messages to being approached online by sexual predators, ICT experts said.

"If your assets are in play, you'd better be able to respond and recover faster," said Jeff Moss, Black Hat founder.

"Regional security managers — whether in a government or a private enterprise — [need to] understand and keep up to date on the latest security trends and technologies."

Travis Carelock, Technical Director for Black Hat, added that the UAE government was also under threat from cyber attacks.

"The UAE is facing increasing threats to its critical national infrastructure, making IT security more and more important for both the public and private sectors," he said.

"Key security issues facing enterprises in the UAE include malware, security of cloud communications, mobile communications, cyber security, among others."

Meanwhile, on the sidelines of the conference, US Air Force General Michael Hayden, former director of the Central Intelligence Agency and deputy director of the National Security Agency, said that Iran was the source of many cyber attacks.

Front companies

"UN sanctions have created some difficulties for Iran's ability to export arms and procure illicit materials, but the regime's use of front companies and other deceptive trade practices allow it to work around restrictions," he said.

Mishal Bin Hussain, manager of operations at ae.CERT, said the UAE has been working on upgrading security measures and systems for government entities in order to curb any hacking attacks.

"We are doing this through a number of initiatives to enhance the cyber security culture and increase information security awareness across the UAE," said Bin Hussain.

He added that Black Hat Abu Dhabi has provided the US Air Force with a platform that enables it to educate industry professionals in the UAE and the Gulf on the importance of IT security.

Experts told Gulf News recently that more than half of the UAE's 2.55 million internet users were victims of cyber crime from February 2010 to February 2011.

They also pointed out that while approximately Dh735 million was stolen from internet users over the 12-month period, Dh1.44 billion was spent on dealing with attacks, said Philip Victor, director of policy and development at Impact, a security services firm that works with the UN.

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