Norton by Symantec today released the Norton Cybercrime Report, detailing research and analysis on the UAE’s digital landscape that shows at least 2 UAE residents are becoming victims of cybercrime every minute as a result of viruses, online scams and phishing attacks being used by cybercriminals, the company said.
In light of these figures, Internet security experts look into the current attitudes behind online behavior within the UAE and what users need to be on the look- out for.
“In a country where more and more users are dependent on the Internet for work, social networking, and everyday tasks such as banking and shopping, there is a definitive gap between how much users are going online and the precautions they take when doing so. There is a critical need for users to take equally diligent steps to protect their personal information on the web just as they would for their physical belongings, especially when 84% of cybercrime victims in the UAE found an online attack to be just as frustrating and upsetting as one in the ‘real world’,” said Tamim Taufiq, head of consumer sales MENA, Symantec
“The solution is simple; users must take their security into their own hands by being smart and safe when they are connected. As cybercriminals work on new and varied methods to target victims it is of fundamental importance that users in the UAE protect themselves with a cautious approach to online activity and comprehensive security solutions for all devices they might use to access the Internet,” Taufiq said.
In UAE, the most common – and most preventable – type of cybercrime falls with computer viruses or malware (51% overall, of which 65% occurred in the past 12 months), Symantec said. Online Scams (19% overall, of which 54% occurred in the last 12 months) and Phishing messages (18% overall, of which 53% occurred in the last 12 months) also rank high in the types of attacks being used by cybercriminals to steal personal data for their own gain, according to the report.
Mobile crime appears to be a major threat for the future with 20% of all cybercrime in the UAE occurring on mobile devices, said analysts. With 56% of all mobile phone users in the UAE using their phones to access the Internet, the need for caution and protection is high with attacks targeting these platforms becoming more sophisticated and more frequent, Symantec added.
‘Cyber-apathy’ is costing UAE consumers time and money; in the past 12 months UAE residents have spent on average 16 days trying to satisfactorily resolve cybercrime attacks with time being cited as the ‘biggest hassle’ faced because of cybercrime by 31% of victims, according to the company.
It is good news that users are now recognising the extent of cybercrime and the widespread impact it can have – 66% of users in the UAE say that cybercrime is a risk everyone takes when they access the Internet and 65% say that the possibility of cybercrime is something they are always aware of when online. Nearly 9 in 10 respondents agree that more needs to be done to bring cybercriminals to justice.
Despite these figures, only 2 in 10 cybercrime victims said they reported the cybercrime to the police while 53% of residents revealed they don’t have up-to-date security software to protect themselves and their personal information and only a marginal 8% of mobile phone users have taken steps to secure their devices.
With one of the highest levels of Internet usage in the region, UAE residents spend on average 31 hours a week online with 42% of residents saying they need the internet in their everyday lives, Symantec representatives said. With this in mind, all users are advised to exercise caution as soon as they connect no matter what sites they are visiting when research shows that users are just as vulnerable to cybercrime whether they are spending over 50 hours a week or between one and two only, the company added.
However, the report revealed that those who engage in riskier online behavior are inevitably more likely to be a victim of cybercrime, 63% of UAE residents have lied about personal details online or adopted a fake identity (including on popular social networking sites) while 77% of those who have lied online have gone on to become a cybercrime victim.