Cyber-attacks are inevitable and companies have no option but to prepare themselves to respond to the attacks appropriately, an international cybersecurity expert has said.
Addressing Chief Information Officers (CIOs) at the recent CIOMajlis, an initiative by Smartworld, an Etisalat and Dubai South joint venture company, Muhammad Shahmeer, founder of Veiliux and an international cybersecurity expert, said cyber-attacks pose a massive threat to not only businesses but to safety and existence of people.
Cyber-attacks have become a serious concern for organisations worldwide. The recent Wannacry malware, which affected 150 countries and infected over 200,000 computers is estimated to have caused an estimated $4 billion losses according to cyber risk modelling firm Cyence.
Cybersecurity Ventures predicts global annual cybercrime costs will grow from $3 trillion in 2015 to $6 trillion annually by 2021, which includes damage and destruction of data, stolen money, lost productivity, theft of intellectual property, theft of personal and financial data, embezzlement, fraud, post-attack disruption to the normal course of business, forensic investigation, restoration and deletion of hacked data and systems, and reputational harm.
“Cybersecurity is the need of the era,” said Shahmeer. “Everything nowadays is online, which also means we are highly vulnerable to cyber-attacks. These could disrupt not only businesses but also affect our safety and existence.”
Citing a report by Kaspersky Lab, he said each security incident could cause an estimated loss of $861000. “Companies must train every employee and adopt a mindset of security in an organisation, conduct cyber workshops. Security, if not adopted as a culture, could cost an organisation everything.”
Companies need to reach the maturity level where the entire organisation right from the leader to an employee are security aware, said Saeed Al Dhaheri, Chairman, Smartworld.
He then added that CIOs should convince their leadership to address security as a priority in the organisation. “The way organisations invest in other areas, they need to invest toward ensuring security within their organisations too, lest it come the weakest link that can cause serious damage. The UAE is making efforts and efforts at various levels need to be unified.”
According to Smartworld CEO Abdulqader Obaid Ali, the world will have over 50 billion inter connected devices by 2020. “The UAE is a frontrunner in terms of adopting the latest technologies. This transformation also brings with it the responsibility and challenge of ensuring safety from cyber-attacks.”
Ahmed Al Mulla, Chairman of CIOMajlis said: “Most companies are spending money toward preventing the attacks, but you really cannot prevent, it is a critical question of generating awareness and having a response plan. “
Among the key challenges that smart cities of the future will face are insecure products and insufficient testing, huge and complex attack surface, shifting mindsets and budgets and lack of oversight and organisation. These challenges must be addressed at the earliest.