March 02, 2022. | Backup and disaster recovery Data security Infrastructure News Regulatory compliance

How Can DIFC-Based Companies Best Manage IT Risks?

Gone are the days of relying on traditional cybersecurity solutions such as firewalls and antivirus software. Cyber attacks grow more complex and sophisticated by the minute, leaving organizations vulnerable to unimaginable threats to their security and data if cybersecurity measures are not strengthened.

‘The average cost of a data breach is 3.86 million U.S. dollars, but financial repercussions vary a lot depending on the region, organization size, and industry,’ Statista reports. Furthermore, a notable 51% of organizations pay the ransom after a ransomware attack, meaning that costs are compounded even further on top of the damage to data and interruption of business activities.

Cybersecurity is incredibly crucial to protect data from damage, theft, and other risks. Particularly sensitive to data breaches are financial services organizations, as well as firms operating in the Dubai International Financial Centre (DIFC). Without a sound cybersecurity program, organizations are left defenceless against data breach campaigns and malicious attacks.

Firms that do not have robust cybersecurity programs in place are at a higher risk of being targeted by cybercriminals. It’s also worth noting that these organizations’ governance, risk, and compliance (GRC) frameworks must likewise apply to their information technology GRC (IT GRC).

Cybersecurity is sometimes overlooked, especially in more traditional work setups. However, it is important to note that just one unaware individual can compromise an organization. Remember that attackers are always on the lookout for weak points in an organization’s security to mount an attack.

If an organization is prepared against cyber threats down to a per-employee level, then the risk of falling for malicious emails and attempts is significantly lowered. As with anything, preparedness and education are key.

DFSA Compliance

In the Dubai Financial Services Authority (DFSA) Cyber Thematic Review for 2020, Chief Executive Bryan Stirewalt highlights the cyber risks that organizations face today: 

‘We are in an era of rapidly increasing cyberattacks around the world when cyber defences might be lowered, and cyber vulnerabilities heightened due to the shift of focus to the health crisis. As cyberattacks targeting the financial services sector are becoming more frequent and sophisticated, it is crucial that financial institutions strengthen their vigilance and diligence around cyber risks and explore new approaches to building greater cyber resilience.’

There is truly a need for firms to keep up with cyber security practices to mitigate these risks. Stirewalt further noted that cyber breaches are ‘a matter of when it will happen, rather than if it will happen.’

As such, firms need to focus not only on protecting their data and preventing cyber breaches but also on bolstering competencies related to handling and recovering from such attacks. With most firms leaving much to be desired in terms of cyber-resilience, there’s a need to revisit vulnerabilities and areas of improvement to ensure compliance with DFSA standards.

According to the DFSA’s latest report, a lot of DIFC-based companies remain vulnerable to cyber attacks. This is because a significant number of these organizations still have not implemented comprehensive cyber risk management. In some cases, cyber risk assessment was performed but only to a limited extent.

Most concerning is the fact that a lot of firms do not enforce encryption on devices, even those that have sensitive data that can easily be targeted. The report further notes that ‘firms’ resilience towards cyber-attacks show that at least half did not have a continuous identification and response capability for managing cyber incidents.’

IT Risk Management

An organization’s IT systems, as well as the information contained in these systems, are always at a risk for various security threats. Especially among financial services firms that rely on technology for business crucial operations, there’s a need to be aware of these risks and prepare for them.

Very briefly, here are some examples of IT risks that an organization’s IT systems are constantly exposed to:

  • Electronic Threats – These aim to compromise critical information; Typically, hackers access a firm’s website or infect their IT system with a virus. Employees may also be victimized by fraudulent or malicious emails and websites.
  • Physical Damage – These threats include damages from floods, fire, theft, or unauthorized access to sensitive data
  • Infrastructure Failures – These refer to things like loss of internet connection. This can be damaging when key processes are reliant on a strong and consistent internet connection.
  • Human Error – In certain cases, employees could accidentally access, delete, or corrupt sensitive files. These threats also include failing to follow security protocols when accessing sensitive data.
  • Technical Failures – These include crashes, failure of components, or software bugs. These failures pose a huge risk when data that isn’t backed up is affected or erased.

The good news is that these risks can be managed with the right IT risk solutions. Here are some of Penta’s services and solutions that have helped many DIFC clients:

Penta Sentinel

Penta Sentinel is our custom-designed Security Information Event Management (SIEM) solution that helps to secure your perimeter and mitigate threats. Penta Sentinel is a managed solution geared towards making SIEM more accessible to businesses. It is a comprehensive SIEM solution developed by our cybersecurity experts and is customized for each client.

Remote Monitoring and Management (RMM)

Our RMM services help secure endpoints (desktop computers and laptops) that are typically most vulnerable in a corporate network. RMM works with antiviruses to provide you with real-time visibility and monitoring of endpoints through a command and control center.

IT Infrastructure Audits

Ensure that your IT infrastructure is secure and reliable with the help of our comprehensive audits. We will help you pinpoint vulnerabilities and security gaps, as well as help you assess your readiness to respond to attacks.

Penetration Testing

We help you test your response capability by simulating attacks against your systems. As such, you can test the effectiveness of current security measures as well as improve on areas of vulnerability.

IT Security Policy Development

We can help you tailor IT security policies and procedures according to your exact business needs. Some of the most essential IT security policies are:

  • Backup and Disaster Recovery Policy
  • Change Management Policy
  • Data Encryption Policy
  • Incident Response Policy
  • Mobile Devices Policy
  • Physical Security Policy
  • Remote Access Policy
  • Network Security Policy
  • Digital Accounts Security Policy

Cyber Security Awareness Training

One of the most important parts of cyber resilience is employee readiness and awareness. Our cyber security awareness training sessions can help you prepare your team to be fully aware and prepared for cyber risks and attacks. The training sessions will be tailored to your team’s current level of awareness, as well as your business environment.

Cyber Insurance Support

Cyber risk insurance providers need to understand the IT risks within an organization before they can offer coverage. Penta can help you answer important questions and support you during IT audits to ensure that you can get the best protection for your business.

DFSA Compliance

Complying with the DFSA’s rulebooks is a top priority for many organizations. When it comes to IT risks, the DFSA’s PIB rulebook has set strict rules to govern IT systems, information security, the outsourcing of IT functions, and disaster recovery measures related to business continuity. Penta is the first choice for financial services providers when it comes to IT regulatory compliance.

Microsoft 365 Security

Take advantage of the advanced features of Microsoft 365 that can help you mitigate numerous IT risks. We can help you implement security elements like Bitlocker, Windows Defender Antivirus, Data Loss Prevention, Windows Autopilot, Microsoft Intune, and Advanced Threat Protection.

If you have any questions regarding any of these solutions or would like to book a consultation for your firm, feel free to get in touch with us today.

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