It’s time for summer vacation again, and while many look forward to a well-deserved break, there is an entire industry that is unlikely to take any time off: cybercrime. Digital security risks and malicious attacks increase during summertime due to lower and temporary staffing in the workplaces.
The UAE, with its advanced digital economy and widespread adoption of technology, has been constantly targeted by increasing cyberattacks on strategic national sectors with the banking, financial, healthcare, oil and gas sectors being the most targeted.
Commenting on seasonal surges in cyberattacks, Fady Younes, Cybersecurity Director, EMEA Service Providers and MEA, Cisco, said: “Having the right cybersecurity strategy requires both resources and time. More importantly, the strategy should focus on people to be more conscient and vigilant in dealing with malicious links, unsafe files, and malware. There are several measures that can be implemented – from making cybersecurity common concern to being alert and careful – which both have a short lead time and can protect individuals and businesses from risks.”
Here are a few measures that contribute to preventing attacks, which at the same time create an increased awareness of security risks among employees.
Make cybersecurity a common concern
We live in a digitized age and cyber-attacks are increasingly targeting people rather than our technical infrastructure. Therefore, it is important to understand that employees must be seen as the first and most important line of defense against attacks. Setting out guidelines for digital security practices in a company is one thing, but creating commitment to them among employees is another. Therefore, a first step should be to open a dialogue about cybersecurity with teams before they go on vacation.
Security first when it comes to data
It is critical to regularly evaluate and test backup and recovery procedures. At the same time, focus on making it both safer and easier for employees to follow the safety procedures. Relatively simple solutions such as password administration via single sign-on (SSO) can reduce complexity and prevent vulnerabilities. This philosophy also makes it easier for employees to spar with each other about what works for them, which helps to further improve security preparedness.
Be alert to urgent matters
It is important to be careful with the AI, which has now become so efficient and readily available that convincing forgeries of colleagues’ emails or even professional forms can be created. If in doubt, it is better to double-check information once too much than once too little at even the slightest doubt.
Be careful when checking emails or working on vacation
If on holiday you are tempted to use a public wi-fi to go online and read e-mails, access the server, or view files in drives, then it is a very good idea to use a VPN connection or any secure access solution so that the data that is exchanged is encrypted, and therefore cannot be “listened in”.
Be always proactive
A proactive approach, continuous education, and the ability to adapt to new threats can help us enjoy the summer with peace of mind. It is important that we keep our eyes open and remain alert. There are countless varieties of cyber-attacks, including phishing, denial-of-service, and ransomware, but fortunately the vast majority can be overcome with awareness, common sense and a critical approach to security when moving in cyberspace. The critical approach is good to take with you everywhere – even on vacation.