The use of hybrid work is becoming more and more popular, but a recent survey conducted by Cisco of general consumers in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) revealed that consumers are increasingly concerned about security breaches and hacking of their connected devices.
As digitisation accelerates across the country, the survey of over 1,001 UAE consumers provides insights into people’s general approach to security. In spite of the fact that the pandemic has accelerated the shift towards hybrid work models and remote access to business data, the survey has identified a number of red flags that consumers should be aware of.
According to Fady Younes, Cybersecurity Director, EMEA Service Providers and MEA,
“Technology at our fingertips means that the future of work has arrived – and it’s borderless. Today, employees are working from anywhere: from home, the office and using public networks, such as restaurants and airports. With hybrid work becoming an integral element for businesses in the UAE and worldwide, organisations need to pay attention to the risk of cyber threats. To mitigate the arising risks, we advise businesses to allow access to data based on zero–trust principles – aligning with individual needs and contexts.”
Work on personal devices
The research was conducted with the aim of understanding attitudes to cybersecurity in the home and revealed that a significant number of people in the UAE frequently use their personal devices for work. Most frequent tasks included sending emails (66 percent) and making business calls (57 percent).
Of the polled consumers in the UAE, the majority share one or more connected devices in the home. Amid a global surge in cyber-attack threats at all levels, respondents appear concerned about the threat of attack, with 73 percent saying they’re worried about their personal devices being hacked. With the number of connected devices shared in the home, 68 percent have updated their password in the past 6 months.
Risk is not only a factor at home, and this is increasingly prevalent in the UAE, where many people opt to work in public spaces or check in on work tasks on the move. In the UAE, 54 percent of respondents frequently use public wireless networks for basic work tasks.
Security measures are misunderstood
Usernames and passwords have never been particularly effective techniques for keeping cyber threats away. Using Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is a very simple method for adding a strong extra layer of protection to system access.
It has been observed that many people in many countries across EMEA do not use or do not understand MFA. In the UAE, 24 percent admit to not being aware of and not using MFA. As nearly every smartphone now has a fingerprint or facial scanner, consumers can choose to use biometrics instead of passcodes to unlock and log in to applications on their personal devices. Organisations have an opportunity to leverage this technology, which is already in employees’ pockets, to drive the adoption of strong MFA at work.