Have a system to ward off cyber risk

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Have a system to ward off cyber risk
A report suggests that cybercrime in the UAE is now valued at Dh5.14 billion, an increase of nearly five per cent from the year before. Photo for illustrative purpose only.

Published: Sat 18 Mar 2017, 7:00 PM

Last updated: Sat 18 Mar 2017, 9:45 PM

With technology continuing to evolve and impact our daily lives in unprecedented ways, the importance of data and cyber-security can no longer be ignored. In its Global Economic Crime Survey 2016, Pricewaterhouse Coopers (PwC) lists cybercrime as the second most reported economic offence that affects organisations on a global scale.
While it is no surprise that financial companies are cited as prime targets for cyber criminals, the report also states that retail outlets in particular, have registered a significant increase in activity. As a result, it has become more important than ever for the management of any company - large or small - to ensure they have the appropriate resources and systems in place to prevent any harmful attacks. The danger of cyber security is not new, it is just more prominent than ever today.
However, knowing that the threat exists alone, is clearly not enough. Towards the end of 2016, a report suggested that cybercrime in the UAE is now valued at Dh5.14 billion, representing an increase of nearly five per cent from the year before. A survey in the report also indicated that several people still do not have an adequate understanding of how some of the activities they engage in could pose a cybersecurity risk - with seven out of 10 people still willing to open malicious links.
Over the years, this inclination has understandably become a key concern in the banking industry. More often than before, online banking users have been left unsure how their account was compromised and funds removed. It is therefore imperative for each of us to understand how we can remain protected.
Avoiding common mistakes
The primary reason for the steady increase in cybercrime is a lack of understanding of issues surrounding the concept of security. Most people believe they are doing enough to address the problem - and that they are adequately protected. However, they continue making the same common errors.
One mistake, for example, is believing that connecting to a public Wi-Fi network for internet access from your mobile device is secure. This is untrue, and instead leaves your device vulnerable to attacks. It is therefore strongly advisable that you do not ever conduct banking transactions while connecting to a public network - or else you risk losing your money.
You should always keep in mind that malware attacks can happen anytime. While we may trust certain organisations - their websites can still be hacked. This makes visitors to the web portals of some of the most reputed global companies susceptible to the same attacks. Therefore, make sure to acquire reliable anti-virus applications on all your devices.
We all know that fraudulent emails are some of the other most common ways criminals try to gain access to financial information. However, unlike before, these emails now look more and more like they are from genuine sources. Usually addressed to the recipient in the subject line, these mails ask for a payment confirmation, urgent transfer or a status check.
Being wary of suspicious activity
As a rule of thumb - if you receive an email from an unknown sender addressed in your name, be cautious. While there is a chance it can be genuine, should you do not recognise the sender, then it is more likely the email is part of a an elaborately designed cyber-attack.
One way to distinguish a hoax is that spurious e-mails usually attempt to make the recipient take action - for example downloading attachments that have malicious executable files ('exe.'). Once these 'exe.' files have been downloaded, cyber criminals can infect the system and carry out various activities - such as remotely viewing user screens and taking control of systems. Similarly, you should never click on links from a sender you do not recognise. In some cases, it can even prove hazardous to click on a link sent by a friend. While on the surface, it may appear that a friend has sent something to you, if the message sounds vague - or only has a link to an unrecognisable website - chances are, their account has been compromised - and clicking on it could lead yours to be too.
Remaining secure
Lastly, if you are concerned that your bank account has been compromised or are worried about being prone to future attacks, speak to your bank. Needless to say, it is important to understand the steps you can take to be secure - and more importantly what your bank can do for you.
For example, it is recommended that each banking customer registers for SMS alerts when banking transactions have been made from their credit or debit cards. This allows you to know straight away in case of any breaches in security - wherever you are - and thus gives you the opportunity to immediately inform your bank of fraudulent activity. With cybercrime becoming more intelligent, we all have a responsibility to be more vigilant. Only through doing so, can we ensure we remain secure.
 The writer is chief technology officer at Noor Bank. Views expressed by him are his own and do not reflect the newspaper's policy.

By Padmanabhan SV

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