x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

UAE's love affair with the smartphone increases cyber threats, experts warn

As mobile usage increases, with UAE residents now averaging two phones each, so do the threats posed by hackers, phishing scams and internet fraud.

DUBAI // The UAE's love affair with the smartphone has a downside - an increased threat of cyber crime.

As mobile usage increases, with residents now averaging two phones each, so do the threats posed by hackers, phishing scams and internet fraud.

The widespread use of smart phones and tablets means that residents are online more and are bigger targets for cyber criminals.

But law enforcement agencies are in discussions with Microsoft over how to combat the threat.

A meeting at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority Conference and Training centre in Dubai with authority and industry figures shared ideas on how to tackle the issue.

The event highlighted the dangers involved in cloud computing, or storing and sharing data online, which has lead to more sophisticated attempts to steal personal information through mobile devices.

Meshal bin Hussain, operations manager for the UAE Computer Emergency Response Team said: "By inviting local Government security experts to exchange their views on mobile security, we are enhancing the national expertise on cyber security incidents in the mobile sphere.

"User awareness, with cyber-attack prevention and detection, and the development of a fast, targeted, efficient response are directly in line with the objectives of the m-Government initiative that aim to protect mobile users against imminent security threats."

The Government continues to emphasise the importance of mobile services and last month rolled out the m-Government initiative to improve connectivity and communication with authorities.

The meeting took place as a study published last week showed that the increasing use of social media and mobile phones in the workplace was contributing to a greater risk of cyber attacks on UAE companies.

Gulf Business Machines (GBM), an IT company with offices in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, published the findings. It surveyed 485 IT professionals in the UAE and found that 43 per cent of them had experienced a security incident in the last year.

Two thirds said they believed the region was a "prime target" for cyber criminals.

ksinclair@thenational.ae