Last Updated on January 1, 2024 by SPN Editor
The UAE Banks has been aggressively advancing its digital transformation to stimulate its economy, drawing substantial attention and investment. This initiative, however, has also rendered it a prime target for persistent cyberattacks, leading to the use of AI for Cybersecurity.
With nearly 50,000 cyberattacks being fended off daily, the UAE has decided to strengthen its digital defenses by using AI for Cybersecurity and establishing strategic alliances to outpace attackers.
The global financial sector, a common target for cyber threats, has led the UAE Banks to seek partnerships to enhance its defenses. A notable collaboration with the US Treasury Department has facilitated the exchange of vital cybersecurity intelligence, safeguarding the financial services sector from emerging threats.
Further collaborations with nations such as Morocco and Chad have strengthened digital ties. Dubai, with its ambitious goal of becoming a global leader in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2031, recognizes the immense opportunities and corresponding digital risks in this venture.
With a focus on security, the UAE has prioritized the implementation of effective policies and systems to mitigate cyber threats. Dr. Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, the head of the UAE Government’s cybersecurity, has championed the development of skilled cybersecurity professionals, particularly in AI.
Al Kuwaiti’s partnership with CPX Holding underscored the significant growth of AI in 2023 and its role in both defense and potential attacks in the country’s security sector.
AI, especially generative AI (GenAI), has been a central focus across various Middle Eastern countries. The potential annual valuation of the GenAI industry at $23.5 billion by 2030 in the Arab Gulf region, and 45% of executives testing GenAI, according to Gartner, highlights the aggressive pursuit of AI projects.
Despite the promise of AI in Banking, the UAE faces risks; cybercriminals are increasingly using AI tools for phishing attacks, impersonating known contacts to extract sensitive information.
Looking forward to 2024, experts anticipate a threat landscape similar to 2023, but with hackers utilizing more efficient methods to breach networks, exploiting zero-day vulnerabilities or stolen credentials.
While AI adoption is set to be a highlight for the UAE in 2024, addressing the technology gap within organizations is crucial. Outdated systems and a lack of skilled professionals contribute to vulnerabilities, as underscored in Trellix’s “Mind of the CISO: Behind the Breach” report, where 64% of UAE respondents reported missed attacks due to resource scarcity or insufficient skills to promptly handle complex incidents.
Some Examples of Cyberattacks in UAE
Cyberattacks that have targeted the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in recent years are:
Dubai Cheers Exhibition: The company fell victim to a cyberattack where its email server was compromised. Criminals sent phishing emails to clients, leading to a Russian client transferring over $53,000 overseas.
Airline Emirates: The company was discovered to be inadvertently leaking a multitude of data points to third-party companies such as Facebook, Google, and Crazy Egg. The leaked information included customer names, emails, itineraries, phone numbers, and passport numbers.
Ransomware Attacks: The UAE has been in the crosshairs of numerous ransomware groups, including Egregor, LockBit 2.0, Conti, Snatch, DarkSide, REvil, BlackByte, Xing, AvosLocker, Avaddon, Rook, and Pysa. Among these, LockBit, Conti, and Snatch have been the primary groups targeting the UAE.
Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) Attacks: In 2020, over 10 million DDoS cyber-attacks were recorded worldwide, with the UAE experiencing a significant increase of 183%.
AI for Cybersecurity in the Banking Sector
Artificial Intelligence plays an important role in enhancing cybersecurity within the banking sector, offering a range of innovative solutions:
Fraud Detection: AI in Banking meticulously analyzes real-time transactional data, swiftly pinpointing irregular spending patterns, unusual transaction locations, or suspicious multiple transactions within a short timeframe, flagging potential fraudulent activities.
Behavioral Biometrics: Utilizing AI-powered behavioral biometrics, systems scrutinize user behaviors like typing patterns, mouse movements, and unique device interactions. This technology identifies and prevents unauthorized access, even if correct login credentials are used.
Advanced Threat Detection: AI for Cybersecurity continuously monitors network traffic, user behaviors, and system activities to identify sophisticated cyber threats like advanced persistent threats (APTs). Machine learning algorithms detect abnormal patterns, signaling potential security breaches.
Endpoint Security: AI-based endpoint security solutions safeguard individual devices from malicious activities, crucial for banking employees accessing sensitive information across various locations and devices.
Security Analytics: AI in Banking analyzes data from diverse sources, empowering security analysts with critical insights to prioritize and respond effectively to security incidents.
Incident Response and Automation: Automation driven by AI expedites incident response, swiftly identifying, containing, and resolving security threats. Automated responses mitigate the impact of attacks in real time.
User Authentication: AI technologies like facial and voice recognition bolster user authentication, offering an added layer of security beyond traditional methods like passwords and PINs.
Secure Chatbots: AI-monitored chatbots in banks undergo scrutiny to prevent malicious activities. AI analyzes conversations, identifying and thwarting potential security threats, and ensuring safe interactions with customers.
Regulatory Compliance: AI for Cybersecurity aids in maintaining compliance with evolving regulatory standards by continuously updating and monitoring security measures.
Training and Awareness: AI in Banking simulates cyber-attacks for training purposes, arming banking staff and cybersecurity professionals with the knowledge and preparedness needed to counter potential threats effectively.