Internationally banks are continually evolving innovative products and services across digital platforms to provide immediate customer service while ensuring their security and compliance requirements are properly maintained. Such innovations are none so more prevalent than here in the region and particularly in the UAE as confirmed by a recent international report from HSBC and Emirates NBD are planning an investment of AED 1 billion in digital initiatives . However as this relationship between technology and financial services goes forward, so does the substantial increase in threats posed by the cybercrime community as shown by recent international wide reaching CYBER ATTACKS. This tension between innovation and security will be one of the biggest challenges facing the financial sector in 2017 and beyond. Yet effectively integrating cyber security and digitization will only serve to accelerate innovation and growth and drive down costs in risk management .If anything cyber security needs to be placed at the centre of digitization.
It has been reported that 63 % of IT leaders in financial services globally have recently experienced a cyber attack and some of these leaders were not optimistic about regaining normal service within 48 hours. So with banks exploring such technologies as blockchain, P2P , Robotic Process Automation , Machine Learning and AI in order to satisfy customer demands one of their priorities is to demonstrate that they are effectively managing customer data in a safe and secure manner as we know that cybercrime follows money. For example it has been reported recently that online banking attacks can on average cost $ 1.8 million.
Within the UAE the finance sector is the most targeted given the volume of transactions, the establishment of financial free zones and the high appeal the country in attracting FDI and cybercrime can have significant impact on business reputation, disruption and financial loss. Also with the UAE leading the GCC initiatives in digital banking the proper management of cyber security has never been more compelling against the background of getting the correct balance between business, risk and security. Recently the Governor of the UAE Central Bank , Mubarak Al Mansouri, announced that a dedicated department will be set up to ensure that standards with respect to cyber risk coordinated with NESA are adhered to as well as working with UBF to enhance a better understanding on cyber risk issues.
The attack on the Bangladesh Central Bank highlighted relevant issues , as has the recent penetration testing of one of the world’s largest banks with all of its desired protection in place and yet was hacked no less than three times . Additionally SWIFT has highlighted attention on hack sophistication citing recent attacks in Taiwan and other locations within their global network.
These examples demonstrate the need for urgent consideration of cyber security policy, management and implementation given the moves to enhanced digitization in the MENA BFSI sector and MEFSEC has been called to provide a networking venue for all parties concerned to debate the real issues and provide solutions to the increased threat factors , from highly practical and in-depth viewpoints thus benefiting all who attend with latest thinking and best practices to employ in their working environments.