DFSA urges companies to join fight against fraud and cyber crimes

Authority's first Cyber Threat Intelligence Platform report calls for measures to boost co-operation and the sharing of expertise

The Dubai Financial Services Authority is encouraging its authorised firms to contribute to cyber security measures as it pledges to boost its efforts to fight financial fraud and other cyber crimes.

The DFSA, the regulatory body of the Dubai International Financial Centre, seeks to address the challenges of cyber threats by creating an ecosystem designed to encourage co-operation and the sharing of expertise, it said in the first edition of its Cyber Threat Intelligence Platform report, released at the Gitex Global technology conference in Dubai on Wednesday.

“The financial sector, including financial hubs like Dubai, is particularly attractive to cyber attacks for several reasons. The sector's increasingly digital nature provides cyber criminals with numerous opportunities to exploit weaknesses and gain access,” DFSA chief operating officer Waleed Al Awadhi told The National.

“The sector's high volume of sensitive information and its interconnectedness, along with geopolitical and economic significance, also contribute to its appeal. Disruptions in financial hubs can have far-reaching consequences.”

Part of the authority's strategy is to expand partnerships and support local and government-led initiatives across the cyber security spectrum, the report said.

“As cyber security operations mature within the region and the DIFC, we expect further adoption of the platform by DFSA-regulated firms, as well as others in the DIFC,” the report said.

“One of the natural challenges we expect to face is improving and encouraging contribution in an organic manner without mandating participation.”

Cyber security attacks can cause reputational and financial damages to people and companies. The growing adoption of financial technology and digital transactions has also led to higher cases of financial fraud.

“While the financial sector is a prime target for cyber attacks, various other sectors are also highly targeted. Cyber criminals driven by financial gain have targeted various sectors worldwide over the last couple of years,” Mr Al Awadhi said.

“This highlights the need for all sectors to prioritise cyber resilience to fend off the crippling effects of cyber threats.

However, cyber criminals have been exploiting technology to their advantage, making them more sophisticated and difficult to counter, opening up several avenues to launch their attacks on unsuspecting users.

“The biggest challenge to robust cyber security is the ever-evolving nature of cyber threats. Cyber criminals continually develop new techniques and tools to breach systems, making cyber crime a highly profitable business model,” Mr Al Awadhi said.

“The lucrative nature of cyber criminal activities suggests that the battle against cyber threats is complex and ongoing with no end in sight.”

The global average for a data breach in 2022 was $4.35 million, up from $4.24 million the previous year, according to IBM's latest Cost of a Data Breach report.

The UAE has plans to develop a cyber security vision that will strengthen action against digital crime for the next 50 years, Mohammed Al Kuwaiti, head of the UAE Cybersecurity Council, said last month.

“We engage and co-operate with other regulators through regional and global cyber supervision forums and working groups. We also encourage firms to co-operate and share information with each other,” the DFSA said.

The report also called for a form of herd immunity against cyber attacks through the rapid sharing of information on threats, effectively increasing the possibility of pre-empting an attack, it said.

“Attackers actively exchange information about hacking techniques and monetisation methods on darknet forums, in private visits and on social networks. They also create communities, forums and attend conferences where they exchange the latest trends in information security,” it said.

“Our adversaries operate in this way with great effect. So, what stops us benefitting from this model?”

Updated: October 18, 2023, 12:24 PM