How can we prevent cybercrimes in the banking sector?

The UAE has been at the forefront of taking decisive and proactive measures to curb the prevalence of cyber-attacks in the region. The strategy and success in combatting cybercrimes in the region lie in the adoption of more comprehensive and streamlined laws and regulations with stricter penalties.

What constitutes a cybercrime?

Cybercrime involves the use of a computer as an instrument to further illegal ends, such as committing fraud, trafficking in child pornography and intellectual property, identity theft, privacy violations etc. It involves distributing viruses, illegally downloading files, phishing and stealing personal information like bank account details etc. A crime can be thus be distinguished as a ‘cybercrime’, if the key ingredients of the crime include ‘computer’ and ‘internet’. For this reason, cybercrimes are often termed ‘computer crimes’. Of the different types of cybercrimes, ‘economic crimes’, which are the trademark of highly organized criminals, using the most advanced technology to commit such attacks are most prevalent.

Key Measures:

The financial sector is without doubt one of the most vulnerable sectors when it comes to cyber-attacks, and such attacks have kept on increasing year or year.

Some of the key measures that can be adopted to prevent such crimes include:

  • Implementing strong corporate policies that ensure proper protection of customer data.
  • Ensuring employee safety regulations and implementing proper checks, including user account verification, user login monitoring and password security to bring in accountability.
  • Assigning a separate user to each staff and prohibiting the exchange of secure information.
  • Prohibiting employees from downloading and implementing any unauthorized software.
  • Ensuring proper approval protocols are implement, with at least two approval requirements for wire transfers or clearance transfers and others.
  • Increasing tech support ensuring proper firewall protection for all devices. This would block contacts from any unauthorized domains.
  • Employee training: needless to say, at the end of the day, the processes are to be followed by the general employees of the bank, and therefore continuous training focused on improving the know–how and possible legal implications are vital.

Cybercrimes pose a threat unlike any other; understanding the challenges ahead, the UAE Central Bank has established a new ‘networking and cyber security operation centre’. The centre is headquartered in Abu Dhabi and aims to boost the IT infrastructure of the UAE’s financial sector in defending cyberattacks. The financial sector has had a mass adoption of digitalization which has also opened up its vulnerability to cyberattacks. Coupled with the Covid -19 pandemic and the resultant market disruptions, the risk of cyber-attack has increased with hackers trying to exploit remote working vulnerabilities. The statistical report released by Comparitech shows that cyberattacks in the UAE could have cost a culminated loss of USD seven hundred and forty-six million a year. The Cyber security centre aims to combat the increasing cyberattacks by establishing best practices and guidelines for managing security threats and vulnerabilities,  and thereby to protect the information infrastructure of the UAE’s banking and financial system.

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