UAE residents cautious about giving personal details online after breaches, study finds

DUBAI // Residents have expressed rising concerns over cyber security in a study carried out by a US firm. Of more than 1,000 respondents, more than three quarters (78 per cent) said that in light of recent security breaches, they would be willing to provide less personal information than they have in the past, according […]

DUBAI // Residents have expressed rising concerns over cyber security in a study carried out by a US firm.

Of more than 1,000 respondents, more than three quarters (78 per cent) said that in light of recent security breaches, they would be willing to provide less personal information than they have in the past, according to the report by FireEye that came out on Thursday.

Another 72 per cent said they would consider paying more to work with a more secure provider that offered the same products or services, while 63 per cent said data security was an important consideration when purchasing a product or service.

“It’s an important issue,” said Ashar Aziz, FireEye’s founder. “These findings are overwhelming. There has been a growing awareness in this region over the last four years as the global cyber threat landscape has evolved and very massive breaches that finally sink into the consciousness of people that it’s real, it’s finally happening and could concern them. That connection is important because it makes them feel they have a cyber presence.”

Almost half the respondents (46 per cent) said they felt more negatively about organisations that had been breached, while 57 per cent said they would stop purchasing from a compromised company and take legal action.

“I think it’s the double-edged sword of technology,” Mr Aziz said. “It’s wonderful all the things that have been enabled by intelligence, technology, software and cyber space in general. But the flip side of it is that cyber space is a reflection of human society, so all the ills that existed in the physical domain have mapped themselves in the cyber domain, like thieves and spies.”

He said the solution was to be vigilant and to build cyber security into future designs. “Any time you have conflict in an area, it’s going to spill into cyber because it’s just another element of our life,” he added.

Most respondents (70 per cent) said they expected organisations that had been breached to inform them immediately in case criminals had obtained access to their personal data.

“People are clearly becoming more cyber aware and, at face value, making it a key factor in how they apply their loyalty online,” said Stephen Bailey, cyber security expert at PA Consulting Group. “There is evidence to suggest that attacked organisations only suffer a temporary dip in customers [or] online sales but it is difficult to predict how long that dip will last and whether they will be strong enough to survive it.”

He said smart organisations would act on these findings and promote strong cyber security as a selling point. “The key to cyber success for organisations includes ensuring that they have the basics right when it comes to cyber security, detecting and responding to security incidents quickly and communicating effectively with those potentially impacted by a breach,” Mr Bailey said. “When an organisation is breached, often very publicly, people’s trust in it is shaken. It is at that point an organisation should communicate openly and honestly to reassure customers or clients.”

Others said the report meant there would need to be a balance between reporting requirements and government-mandated protocols across. “We have seen in other parts of the world where government, banking institutions and even defence contractors are now mandated to provide cyber security safeguards and also reporting laws and regulations to combat cyber crime,” said Matthew Cochran, chairman of the Defence Marketing Services Council in Abu Dhabi.

“It is in many ways an opportunity for the UAE to take the lead worldwide, given their advance push into smart cities.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

Source: uae news

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