Enhanced efforts needed to combat cybercrimes

As information and technology (IT) advances and the world moves steadily towards the digital economy, challenges grow tenaciously with similar pace, posing serious difficulties that should be addressed to keep hackers at bay.
Cyber-threats have been growing across key sectors such as financial services, oil and gas, technology, government, retail, construction, healthcare, among others.
With resolve to enhance the cyber security to keep abreast with the knowledge-driven economy, many countries have put forward plans to upgrade the cyber security to protect vital data from encroachment of snoopers. Laws and regulations have been enacted to deter cybercriminals, with emphasis on the protection of information and national security as well.
In this context, President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan’s move to issue the UAE Cybercrime Law No. 5 of 2012 was instrumental. According to the law, punishments could go up to a life sentence, or a fine ranging from AED50, 000- AED3million, depending on severity of the cybercrime.
Yet despite the existence of the cybercrime laws, the social media networking such as Facebook, Twitter, WhatsApp and others, challenges persist as ignorant and unscrupulous users still cause damages. Some even use these interaction forums for blackmail, cheating, fraud and other crimes.
Cybercrime could also pose a threat to state’s security as IT-savvy hackers use their knowledge of advanced programme to steal classified information that could affect the national security of a victim state. They also use the technology to snatch amounts of money from financial institutions and even from personal accounts of their potential targets.
Symantec, a United States information protection firm, found cyber-attacks in the Middle East had increased. It noted that most incidents involved the use of specific malware system that controls computer networks in the region. Several groups were found to have used the malware to target regional governments.
Amid such evolving threats, the UAE Federal National Council (FNC) is set to toughen the cybercrime laws to rein in offenders and block loopholes still being exploited by violators. The FNC’s session on Tuesday would pass more stringent laws to strengthen the state’s long arm to combat the cybercriminals and the snoopers. With stiff laws in place and by stepping up awareness campaign, the country can educate ignorant users of the social media networking about seriousness of breaching privacy of people that is punishable by law.
Given its importance, the cyber security market is the fastest growing market at 8-10 percent per a year. The world’s cyber security market may touch $66 billion this year, while the Middle East market is estimated between $23 million and $25 billion during the next decade. Out of this, the UAE may account for more than 40 percent.
Nitin Khanapurkar, partner, KPMG Lower Gulf, said, “The UAE is on the list of the top 10 destinations targeted by cyber criminals and it comes as no surprise that cyber threats have been growing across key sectors like financial services, oil & gas, technology, government, retail, construction and health care.”
Due to lack of sufficient experience, traditional IT security defences provide little protection as the cybercriminals and nation-states behind these attacks use targeted approaches and advanced malware to routinely bypass signature-based security defences.
Of course, it is a common knowledge that the cyber villains use advanced new methods to evade detection and hijack corporate infrastructures with impunity. Therefore, intelligence and cyber monitoring should be maximised through hiring advanced cyber security companies that could provide preventive solutions and identify hackers.
The international community is obsessed with the threat posed by the cybercriminals. Each state strives to strengthen the IT security companies to protect its own economy and security in the age of information war. Hence, the UAE institutions and corporations should continuously revamp the internet security through identifying who, where and why they are likely to be targeted.
To tighten grip on the cybercriminals, regional and international cooperation should be strengthened to exchange and share information to prevent such crimes before they occur.

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