Consumers’ dependency on digital devices may prove security risk for country

At a recent conference experts said companies' reluctance to focus on software security puts users at risk.
Hani Nofal, executive director of Gulf Business Machines, a Middle East IT solutions provider, says people's dependency on social media has created cyber security challenges. Satish Kumar / The National
Hani Nofal, executive director of Gulf Business Machines, a Middle East IT solutions provider, says people's dependency on social media has created cyber security challenges. Satish Kumar / The National

DUBAI // Consumers’ growing dependence on social media is increasing cybersecurity risks in the Middle East, experts have warned.

And with companies reluctant to put more focus on their software’s security, the door is left wide open for hackers to attack.

“We’ve become so dependent on social media, it has driven a completely different challenge because of the exposure that we have to it,” said Hani Nofal, executive director of Gulf Business Machines, a Middle East IT solutions provider.

“In our region, 30 per cent of employees are allowed full access to social-media platforms in the workplace.The rest have either semi or full restrictions, and [businesses are] all doing it for security concerns but, eventually, it’s just a matter of time” before that changes.

From Facebook, Twitter and Instagram to buying tennis rackets, toothbrushes, cars and pills online, consumers are increasingly putting their lives on the internet.

But that will have consequences.

“Criminals will always use any tool they can get their hands on and this will grow because we’re more and more online,” Mr Nofal said at the Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference in Dubai this week.

“Our lives are more dependent on this digital age so more crimes will happen, and we won’t be able to stop it because this is human nature, so we have to be prepared and try to mitigate incidents.”

But software companies are not playing their part, according to a former official from the US Central Intelligence Agency.

“I don’t see the situation improving in the near future,” said Robert Bigman. “Companies should put more focus on the security aspect but business decisions always win out over security and that’s the bottom line.

“They have to watch and monitor the process but if you ask them to secure something or make more money, the answer is obvious.”

Mr Bigman said some governments did not act to prevent crises.

“The problem is a lack of commitment,” he said.

“In the US, we don’t really respond to a crisis until it happens and, when it does, I think we’ll get serious.

“It shouldn’t be that way yet it is, and that’s the fundamental truth.”

Mr Bigman said the challenge at hand was a difficult one.

“Computers themselves don’t have the right security operating system,” he said.

“So until we’ve solved the fundamental problem of computer security, then we’re not ready.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

Published: June 13, 2014 04:00 AM

SHARE

Editor's Picks
NEWSLETTERS
Sign up to:

* Please select one