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From smishing to phishing, there are several ways with which unscrupulous elements can commit bank frauds and rob you of a lifetime’s savings. The fact that there have been over 800 cyber attack cases in Dubai related to the banking industry alone is a cold, alarming reality. Worldwide, the average cost of cyber crime for the banking sector rose by about 10 per cent last year to $18 million (Dh66.06 million). In 2018, the Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) concluded that close to $600 billion (that is nearly one per cent of global GDP) is lost to cybercrime each year.

What compounds the gravity of this reality is that human fallibility and error are invariably the factors that dangle the carrot to cyber criminals.

The launch of the UAE-wide #SecureYourAccount campaign by the Dubai Police, with its renewed emphasis on re-educating consumers on the best practices for online banking, aims to bring down the numbers. It is an urgent goal and the only way to get there speedily is if consumers do their bit to brush up on their knowledge of cyber safety rules. While technology’s rate of disruption has been stunning in its advancement into all aspects of our lives, and in the context of banking, brought the bank home rather than people needing to visit it, the same rule of facilitation also works for criminals who can, at the click of a mouse, plunder an individual’s bank account.

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Simple practices for online banking such as strong password construction, recognition of spam, red flagging fraudulent email instructions to part with account information, are all routinely beyond the pale of understanding of many individuals who struggle to read technology’s small print, ploughing a furrow for cyber criminals to operate in. Email spoofing, instant messaging or simply directing unsuspecting users to enter info in fake websites are also traps.

The UAE has invested heavily over the years in launching numerous campaigns to raise public awareness of cyber fraud and has formulated strong laws to penalise cyber criminals. The UAE’s banking institutions too have been alerting customers all along on how to safeguard themselves against fraudulent online practices but the real breakthrough will come when individuals decide to stay several steps ahead of the scammers through due diligence on cyber safety best practices. A good way to start is by taking the Dubai Police’s #SecureYourAccount campaign seriously.

Because if you don’t, who stands to lose?