x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

New approach required to counter rise of cybercrime, Dubai forum hears

The rapid growth of computer technology used by individuals, businesses and the Government that is helping to power the economy is also attracting opportunistic criminals.

DUBAI// The UAE needs to develop new and more integrated laws to deter potential cybercriminals, a leading expert has warned.

The rapid growth of computer technology used by individuals, businesses and the Government that is helping to power the economy is also attracting opportunistic criminals.

"Cybercriminals look for weak points in countries that perhaps don't have the regulations in place to deter them," said Eneken Tikk-Ringas, senior fellow for cybersecurity at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.

"There needs to be a connected approach by governments in this region, which can give confidence to users and also act as a deterrent to criminals."

Ms Tikk-Ringas was in Dubai yesterday for a workshop on cybersecurity, with the public and private sectors discussing the issue.

She said that unlike Europe and the United States, the Middle East lagged behind in a clear legal strategy to defend against cybercrime.

"It's not simply a case of seeing what one country has done and copying it," she said. "It needs to be a tailored response to the particular needs of the UAE."

Ms Tikk-Ringas believes regulation on the issue of data protection is one area the UAE could look into.

"Data protection includes issues of data retention, ownership of data as well as freedom of information," she said.

"To be effective, this kind of regulation needs to be looked at as a whole and not separately.

"We see cybercriminals shopping around for jurisdictions that have less well-developed policies and regulations."

But it not just the laws and regulations that need to be looked at.

"These days telecoms companies play a key role in providing a range of IT services and they along with the government can do a lot to educate people on cybercrime," she said. "People should be made aware of the simple steps they can take to protect themselves against this type of crime."

Similar workshops related to this issue could take place in the future, Ms Tikk-Ringas said.

"It's important to keep an open dialogue between government and the private sector to develop these kinds of regulations."

nhanif@thenational.ae