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UAE ranks risk of cybersecurity failure as a top concern

Researchers recently revealed that the UAE is one of the most targeted countries in the region when it comes to Advanced Persistent Threats
Researchers recently revealed that the UAE is one of the most targeted countries in the region when it comes to Advanced Persistent Threats

Dubai - Experts say that ransomware is becoming a dangerously growing threat and presents a major concern for public safety



by

Rohma Sadaqat

Published: Tue 18 Jan 2022, 4:12 PM

Cybersecurity failure has been identified among the top 10 risks that have worsened the most since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, new research by the World Economic Forum (WEF) has revealed.

According to the WEF’s ‘The Global Risks Report 2022’, the risk of cybersecurity failure is ranked among the top five concerns for several small, highly digitalised economies, including the UAE, Denmark, Japan, and Singapore. Four countries — Australia, Great Britain, Ireland and New Zealand — ranked it as the number one risk. In addition, 85 per cent of the Cybersecurity Leadership Community of the WEF have stressed that ransomware is becoming a dangerously growing threat and presents a major concern for public safety.

The WEF report also noted that already-stretched IT and cybersecurity professionals are under an increasing burden, not only because of the expansion of remote work, but also because of the growing complexity of regulations for data and privacy, even though such regulations are critical to ensuring public trust in digital systems. There is also an undersupply of cyber professionals — a gap of more than three million worldwide — who can provide cyber leadership, test and secure systems, and train people in digital hygiene.

Experts have stressed that a continued lack of cybersecurity professionals could ultimately hamper economic growth, although new initiatives to “democratize” cybersecurity, for example, by providing free cybersecurity risk management tools, could help fill some of the gaps for small businesses or other institutions.

Renaud Deraison, CTO and co-founder of Tenable, said that it is “unsurprising” that cybersecurity failure ranks among the top five risks in the Middle East region, as widespread dependency on digital systems intensified to facilitate our professional, social and recreational needs during the pandemic.

“This reliance combined with the continued democratisation of the use of digital currencies creates an explosive situation where attackers are financially motivated to ply their trade,” he explained. “Pandora’s box has been opened and organisations are left exposed to cyber vulnerabilities across critical infrastructure, supply chains, businesses - all threatening to disrupt our way of life.”

Similarly, Kaspersky researchers recently revealed that the UAE is one of the most targeted countries in the region when it comes to Advanced Persistent Threats (APT). They have worked on 49 investigative reports related to 16 cyber gangs actively targeting the country since the start of the pandemic in 2020. Kaspersky has found that these APT groups primarily target the UAE’s governmental and diplomatic institutions as well as educational organisations. Other targeted entities include financial institutions, IT companies, healthcare, law firms, military and defence.

“Targeted threats are getting more and more sophisticated every day,” said Abdessabour Arous, a security researcher at Kaspersky. “Today, all organisations have a pressing need to stay informed; as this allows security teams to predict what the attacker’s next move would be and take appropriate steps to protect themselves against future incidents.”

Deraison said that the next two years will truly test the mettle of the world’s digital systems, as both skilled and unskilled cybercriminals replicate successful methods of attacks from 2021, take advantage of ransomware-as-a-service kits, and go after known but unpatched vulnerabilities. The same things cybersecurity professionals have warned about for years.

“If both the public and private sectors don’t increase the barriers to entry by collectively raising the standards of cybersecurity, malicious activities will far outpace societies’ ability to effectively prevent them,” he warned. “Organisations must do everything they can to demonstrate strong corporate governance around cybersecurity and weave it into the fabric of their digital infrastructure. If organisations are still relying on cyber strategies from two years ago, the increasing numbers of cyberattacks provides an impetus to rethink their approach to managing cyber risk in this new normal.”

rohma@khaleejtimes.com


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