A new generation of cyber-savvy law enforcement recruits are needed to tackle the growing threat from criminals and terrorists, one of Dubai's top security officials said.
Lt Gen Dhahi Khalfan Tamim, deputy chief of police and public security, warned that billions of dollars are being lost to cyber theft and subversion.
“Crime and technology experts are anticipating a complete digital transformation of terrorist crimes,” he said at an event for police officers in Sharjah this week.
“Terrorists will no longer need to use explosives but will instead resort to the use of e-bombs to destroy information systems and paralyse mass operations.”
Manipulating central bank monetary reserves, hacking self-driving vehicles and taking control of planes and trains are among the potential threats.
“The digital world has changed how crime happens and according to technology scientists and crime experts, there is no system that is not hackable,” he said.
“We need to prepare and qualify a generation that is capable of not only detecting these crimes and presenting undisputed evidence but also skilful enough to stop these crimes before they happen.”
The world has seen a sharp increase in the number of cyber crime victims since the pandemic began.
In the UAE, cyber crime costs $746 million a year and involves more than 166,000 victims.
Global estimates suggest cyber crime could cost up to $10.5 trillion annually by 2025, up from $522 billion in 2018 and $945 billion in 2020.
Lt Gen Tamim called for joining forces with neighbouring countries and dedicated laws that help curb terrorism.
“But we first need a unified identification of [cyber] terrorism and of the kind of crimes that fall under it,” he said.
The most common form of cyber crime is phishing which tricks unsuspecting users into giving away personal information by opening attachments from unofficial sources or clicking on unknown links.
In recent months UAE residents have reported receiving fake bills impersonating brands including Netflix, Aramex, Emirates Post, McDonald’s and Papa Jones.
Another type of internet fraud sees people asked to pay a fee for moving a large sum of money from a foreign country. Once the fee is paid, the money never arrives.
'Companies need to protect themselves'
“With technology advancing on daily basis, we will always have merging types of cyber crimes therefore we must have more cyber security analysts,” said Staff Sgt Nouf Alharmoodi, cyber security expert with Sharjah Police.
She said it is imperative for the country to have more cyber security analysts to identify and neutralise new threat tactics as quickly as they appear.
She also said companies needed to invest to protect themselves.
“We will continue to do our part of educating people but this is a cyber war on institutions and individuals and they need to be responsible too and do their part,” said Staff Sgt Alharmoodi.
The remarks were made during Police Ideology Forum organised by the Research Centre at Sharjah Police.