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Mutlak speaking to bankers

Think tank to combat cybercrime in Bahrain

Manama, February 19, 2014

A think tank is to be set up in Bahrain to tackle the growing problem of cybercrime.

The Middle East is twice as susceptible to cyber-attacks compared with the global average, according to research released by Microsoft, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

A Bahrain Association of Banks (BAB) seminar on cybercrime yesterday heard that Bahrain's banking sector was particularly vulnerable to attack.

"If HSBC, Citibank, Bank of America, major broadcasters and even the oil and gas industry can be hacked then we are just as vulnerable," said BAB chief executive Robert Ainey.

The threats prompted the Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) to instruct BAB to set up a think tank to protect the banking industry from cybercriminals.

"We were asked to contact the member (of BAB) banks and ask them to nominate someone from their information technology (IT) or risk management team to make up a task force to tackle cybercrime," said Ainey.

"Until now there are already 19 different banks that have signed up to be part of the task force.

"It is still under formation, but it was escalated by the CBB.

"So we jumped on the case and are waiting for the first meeting to be called.

"The CBB haven't scheduled a meeting yet."

Ainey explained that each member would act as a body that will analyse weaknesses in their own banks as well as potential threats to form a strategy and policies to combat the threat.

"The responsibility of members will be to brainstorm security solutions, like a think tank," he said.

"We will discuss the state of readiness of these sample banks and compile a report.

"Based on that the CBB will probably make policy decisions like what they did in Saudi.

"I don't believe in reinventing the wheel - the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency has instituted 21 new policies that we will examine and see if they are applicable to Bahrain and based on that we will see whether Bahrain needs more or less the same regulations."

Cybercrime is a $444 billion a year underground industry that deals with the sale and illegal use of information, according to Deloitte Enterprise Risk Service partner Fadi Mutlak.

He explained that the Middle East remains behind the rest of the world in terms of its readiness to confront cybercrime.

The Middle East, including Bahrain, on average has twice as many infected systems than the global average, which represents a higher threat level to institutions - that is across organisations and across industries in the Middle East, said Mutlak.

"When we combine that threat level with the geopolitics of the region - with threat actors like hacktivists, it becomes an elevated threat level that we as an industry need to work collectively to address.

"It might be caused by a combination of awareness, access to skilled workforce, culture or the maturity of the industry as a whole."

Mutlak added the best way to tackle threats was through managing risk not only within companies and industries but at a national level through the introduction on new privacy and security policies. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: Bahrain | Cybercrime | problem | Tank | Think |

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