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UAE faces high rates of cyber-crime

1.4m UAE residents have been affected by online crime in 12 months

UAE faces high rates of cyber-crime
Tamim Taufiq, head of Consumer Sales MENA, Symantec, says that residents in the UAE need more education about cyber-crime.

Over half of all UAE internet users, 1.4 million people, have been a victim of online crime in the last 12 months, according to a survey sponsored by Norton by Symantec and conducted by Strategy One. The total number of internet users in the UAE is 2.55m.

The figure for people becoming victim to cyber-crime is high for the UAE, according to Tamim Taufiq, head of Consumer Sales MENA, Symantec, because of a lack of education in the region about cyber-crime.

"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

Globally, 44% of online users have been victims of cyber-crime over the last 12 months.

The cost of these cyber-crime attacks to the UAE economy was $611.3 million in both cash and the time it took to fix the cyber-crime attacks during the 12 months between February 2010 and February 2011.

Taufiq said that $209m of that figure is actual cash stolen by cybercriminals through cyber-attacks and $401m was the cost of fixing those attacks.

"The solution is simple; users must take their security into their own hands by being smart and safe when they are connected. As cyber-criminals 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," said Taufiq.

On average it takes the UAE up to 16 days to fix the effects of cyber-crime on an individual, while in the US it takes up to ten days.

In the UAE, the most common type of cyber-crime is computer viruses or malware at 65% of the total number of attacks monitored in the past 12 months by Norton.

Online scams represented 54% of attacks in the 12 months, while phishing messages came in at 53% of attacks in the last 12 months.

The number of mobile phone attacks in the UAE is high, with 20% of attacks occurring through mobile internet in the country. Fifty-six percent of mobile phone users in the UAE access the internet via their mobile phones and, according to Taufiq, this figure is set to grow.

Despite the high rates of cyber-attacks in the UAE, only two out of every ten people affected by a cyber-attack will report it to the authorities, while over half of respondents in the UAE revealed in the survey that they don't have up-to-date security software to protect themselves and their personal information online and only a very small amount of respondents, 8%, said they had security software on their mobile phones to protect them against attacks.

The UAE was the only Middle Eastern country included in the survey, which was conducted in 24 countries and featured 20,000 respondents.

Symantec used a broad definition of cyber-crime for the study, the definition included viruses and malware affecting computers, online harassment, victims responding to phishing messages and being approached online by sexual predators.

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