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Abu Dhabi: The UAE is currently the target of five per cent of the world’s cyberattacks and the attacks have gone up by 500 per cent in the country over the past five years, an expert in the capital revealed.

Speaking to Gulf News, Rabih Dabbousi, senior vice-president of Sales, Marketing and Business Development at international cyber security firm Dark Matter, said the finance sector is the most targeted in the UAE.

“The exponential adoption of technology increases the UAE’s attack surface which is becoming larger every second. Typically, cybercrime follows money. The volume of financial transactions in the UAE, the establishments of financial free zones and the overall appeal of investing in the country are only some reasons why banks and other financial institutions are constantly being attacked,” he said.

The oil and gas industry is the second most visible and targeted in the UAE, Dabbousi explained.

“Hackers who infiltrate these massive organisations do so to earn the credibility of other criminals like them. As this sector digitises, bringing in efficiency, productivity and enhancement to the overall business model, it also gives opportunities to attackers to use common tools,” he added.

As the UAE heads towards creating smarter cities for its residents by implementing technology to ease the public’s way of life while advancing towards innovation and differentiation, the country’s visibility and profile also increases across the world.

“The fact that we are constantly under attack on a daily basis is a fact of life we need to live with. The cyber security scene in the UAE has become fairly active and because of that, we continue to establish ourselves at a global platform from economic, social and competitive perspective, we have become visible in many ways,” Dabbousi said.

“However, these are merely growing pains,” he added.

Dark Matter is also working towards setting up a cyber security academy which is set to open in the UAE to develop local talent in the field.

Residents are therefore advised to practise resilience when protecting themselves against attacks.

“Making sure that your bank has in place stringent security measures and ensuring that your passwords are not just your name and date of birth are some ways people can protect themselves against attacks,” he said.

Using a credible, branded cloud service is also advisable as is using a local brand as several are available from companies such as Etisalat, Du and Injazat.

“If anyone believes that a photo, video or other content they have should not be seen by others, then it’s best to discard it as almost all technology is ‘crackable’,” he added.