Some small businesses are busy reviewing their online security policies before the start of the new year, but experts warn that many are still not taking the necessary precautions and are falling victim to cybercrime.
Granted, many of the warnings come from software companies that sell security products and have a vested interest in selling more of their technological offerings.
But with the rising popularity of social networking sites, as well as an increasing reliance on internet-based applications, "intensive security is critical in safeguarding information", says Malek Al Malek, the managing director of Dubai Internet City.
"Undoubtedly, data security and prevention of data loss is a primary concern for organisations across the globe in all sectors of business," he adds.
The cost of cybercrime to the UAE's economy is estimated at more than US$600 million (Dh2.2 billion) a year, according to a report by Norton, which creates antivirus software.
Many experts are attending the two-day Black Hat Technical Security Conference in Abu Dhabi to address top security concerns within the industry. The conference starts today. Some of the issues expected to be raised can help small businesses, in particular, when it comes to improving their security measures on a limited IT budget.
Backing up a computer is one of the simplest, and most affordable, ways to secure business data.
Yet a survey released last week found that only 34 per cent of small businesses in the UAE back up data daily, even though most say they have lost information due to power failure, according to the online security company Symantec and YouGov, which helped to conduct the study.
"They tend to copy folders, rather than doing a comprehensive backup of their system," says Prajit Arakkal, the director for small to medium business distribution and sales in emerging markets at Symantec.
"There's a big hole there."
Smaller firms in the UAE are better at following some of the more basic security measures than nearby countries such as Saudi Arabia and Egypt. More companies here use password protection and employ antivirus software when surfing the internet.
Yet only about half of local companies use more advanced techniques such as encrypting sensitive documents or blocking access to social-networking sites, according to Symantec's survey.
Of course, investing in proper security does not come cheap. Most small businesses in the Emirates spend between $1,000 and $5,000 each year on IT, and the vast majority also pay salaries to employ a dedicated technician or department of specialists in-house.
Part of this money is now being spent on so-called desktop virtualisation programs, which separate data on a computer's desktop from the physical machine as an added layer of protection.
One survey released last week found that 55 per cent of companies surveyed expect to roll out these types of programmes for the first time by 2013, with 86 per cent of firms citing security as the primary driver, according to Citrix, a company that provides virtual computing solutions and released the study.
Other companies are also pitching their own kinds of remedies.
On Monday, WatchGuard Technologies released a new tool targeted at small businesses in the Emirates with 30 to 50 employees. Known as the XTM 330, it aims to protect computer networks from digital evils such as spyware and malware. It also works on the growing number of devices that staff are keen to use at work, including tablets such as the iPad as well as smartphones.
"More and more, you have people using personal devices," says Mr Arakkal. "From an organisation's perspective, do you want to let people do that [for work purposes]?"