Build a culture of cybersecurity, experts say
Organisations that limit themselves to simply investing in cybersecurity technologies, instead of creating a 'culture of cybersecurity', are leaving themselves increasingly vulnerable to hackers, experts at a recent seminar noted.
Organised by the managing committee of the Institute of Chartered Accountants of India, Dubai Chapter (ICAI Dubai), the 'Managing Risks - Internal Audit & Cyber Security' seminar brought together several experts to shed light on the challenges being faced by organisations in the UAE and GCC region.
In his keynote speech, Abdulqader Obaid Ali, president of the UAE Internal Audit Association and CEO of Smartworld, revealed that every 14 seconds an identity, or a company, is being hacked. "Technically speaking, you have already been hacked in your organisation, and you just don't know it yet. It takes almost 177 days for an organisation to realise that they have been hacked. Studies have determined that the cost of this is over $600 billion. Malware and ransomware are on the rise, and listed companies, especially, are big targets for hackers.
"If a malicious organisation manages to steal valuable data, then they will threaten the CEOs of listed companies with the loss of that data," he added. "However, it doesn't stop here, we have seen these hackers go for governments and the data that they hold."
The cost of the damage caused by ransomware in 2019 was estimated to be around $11.5 billion. Banks and financial institutions are on the top of the list of major industries that are being hit by cyber attacks, followed by the healthcare, government, and transport sectors.
"With just one laptop, hackers can bring down a whole organisation and ecosystem, and, as a result, most companies spend a fortune on protecting their data," said Obaid Ali. "However, there are still lots of ways that companies can be hacked. Employees often write down their passwords and unknowingly click on a suspicious link because there is no education about Internet safety in the company."
Anish Mehta, chairman of ICAI Dubai, noted that the objective of the seminar was to showcase the challenges that internal auditors face in the VUCA world. He explained that their roles have evolved to address these challenges, thereby generating value for organisations and re-affirming their role as a trusted advisor to the management. "Auditors also need to embrace the changes due to technological changes and advancement, including re-asserting the importance of cybersecurity to safeguard the organisation's business and data."
Sundar Nurani, vice chairman of ICAI Dubai, added: "Internal auditors should adopt innovation. The evolving nature of internal audit work requires new methods enabled by new technologies, new ways of working with those charged with governance, audit committees and other stakeholders. Hence internal audit leaders must initiate innovative changes within themselves and within their internal audit groups."
"A changing economic outlook, and increasing automation, requires internal auditors to adopt technology and data analytics in a systematic manner to stay relevant, and provide insights on current and emerging business risks," noted Anurag Chaturvedi, secretary, ICAI Dubai.
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