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Billions being spent to foil rising cyber attacks

The UAE government's head of cybersecurity Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti. The organisation says it is foiling 50,000 cyber attacks a day Wam
The UAE government's head of cybersecurity Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti. The organisation says it is foiling 50,000 cyber attacks a day
  • UAE government foiling 50,000 daily cyber attacks
  • Global cost of e-commerce fraud will be over $48bn this year
  • Mena spending on security to reach $6.2bn this year

Cyber attacks in the Mena region are set to grow by 70 percent this year, according to an industry expert.

Digital criminals are adopting increasingly sophisticated methods to target their victims, meaning e-commerce operators in the region are spending billions more on security to assure customers their transactions are safe.

Jason Lane-Sellers, regional director of fraud and identity at LexisNexis Risk Solutions, said the global average increase was 50 percent, while the growth of attacks in Europe stands at 20 percent.

“The type and nature of attacks are evolving globally,” he told AGBI.

Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti, head of cyber security at the UAE government, said the country is thwarting 50,000 cyber attacks a day, from ransomware to cyber terrorism.

“We respond to them with great protection, zero attack penetration. Our threshold is very high,” he said. “Every day attacks increase because we continue to adapt to new technologies.”

The UAE is ranked fifth worldwide in the Global Cybersecurity Index of the International Telecommunication Union of the United Nations.

The country’s Cybersecurity Council is working with the government to increase cooperation with international agencies, in particular Interpol, to protect cyberspace in the UAE.

Mena spending billions to foil rising cyber attacksWAM
The UAE’s Cybersecurity Council is working to increase cooperation with international agencies

A study from UK-based Juniper Research showed the total cost of e-commerce fraud to merchants will exceed $48 billion globally in 2023, from just over $41 billion in 2022.

It predicted that this will be accelerated by the increasing use of alternative payment methods, such as digital wallets and ‘buy now pay later’, which are creating new fraud risks.

According to a report from Checkout.com, two thirds of Mena consumers surveyed may avoid shopping online if they have safety concerns.

Dr Saeeda Jaffar, GCC group country manager at payments giant Visa, said: “As the world recovers from the pandemic, the payments industry can expect fraudsters to return their focus to financial institutions and merchants.”

Spending on security solutions and services in the Middle East and Africa will rise by 7.9 percent annually this year to hit $6.2 billion, according to the Worldwide Security Spending Guide from International Data Corporation.

The firm’s forecast estimates that the figure will reach $7.7 billion in 2026, and yet it may still not be enough to prevent a cyber attack.

Stephan Berner, CEO of Help AG, the cyber security arm of e& enterprise (formerly Etisalat Digital), said: “There’s no such thing as 100 percent security. Anybody who goes out to the market and says they can protect 100 percent is a liar.”

Berner revealed that last year in the UAE Help AG saw around 150,000 distributed denial-of-service attacks – in which the attacker floods a server with internet traffic to prevent users from accessing connected online services and sites.

He explained that ransomware and phishing attacks are also becoming more sophisticated, with attackers using tactics like double extortion to increase pressure on organisations to pay the ransom and social engineering tactics to trick victims into divulging sensitive information.

LexisNexis Risk Solutions’ Lane-Sellers said it was increasingly difficult to catch the culprits: “This is global, so the attackers aren’t even in the UAE or Saudi Arabia. As soon as you go digital, you open yourself up to attacks from around the world because digital attacks can initiate anywhere.”

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