UAE Cyber-security Threats May Rise

12/16/2013 11:00 am EST


Leading all the way up to Expo 2020, cyber-security threats in the UAE could increase steadily, writes Tom Arnold, of The National.

Cyber-security risks in the UAE could intensify in the run-up to the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, says a report by an accountancy body.

The need to combat cyber-crime is growing globally, as evidenced by high-profile hacking cases around the world, said the Institute of Chartered Accountants of England and Wales (ICAEW).

“There will be enormous procurement going on there over the next decade [in Dubai],” said Michael Izza, ICAEW's chief executive. “If a criminal was to hack into a government system, create a fraudulent purchase order, and an invoice, Dubai pays automatically on the system.”

A flurry of projects are expected to be rolled out, as Dubai gears up to host the event. As with all big global events, the extent of the planning, and high-profile focus, create potential opportunities for cyber-crime.

ICAEW's global report on cyber-security risks calls for greater openness, by companies and governments, about the challenges they face, to help build knowledge to fight the risk. The report was produced by external auditors working with major companies.

“Cyber-security is becoming one of the biggest risks most companies around the world now have to consider,” Mr. Izza said.

“It hasn't just crept up on us in the last 12 months, but we are now at a stage where governments and international agencies feel that the pressure is such, that multinationals, corporates, have to be much more open about how much of a problem it is for them.

“A lot of organizations are frankly in denial, or ignorance, about how much of this is going on.”

The Middle East has become one of the global hotspots for cyber-crime, as evidenced by the cyber-attack in August of last year on Aramco, Saudi Arabia's state-owned oil firm. The attack wiped out the hardware on 85% of Aramco's devices.

Mr. Izza decided to commission a report on the issue after learning that ICAEW faced about 1,500 attempts to hack its information technology system every day.

Globally, banks have to fight tens of thousands of cyber-attacks every day, with other companies also at risk.

The world's two largest economies, the United States and China, often exchange accusations of hacking.

In February, US information security firm Mandiant alleged that a Chinese army unit had stolen huge amounts of data from at least 141 organizations, mostly based in the US.

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