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Saudi consumers ‘vulnerable’ to cyber-attacks, says study

47 percent tend to use unsecure public networks via their cellphones and 64 percent use their smartphones to access online banking accounts

Published: Updated:

Three in 10 consumers in Saudi Arabia have experienced cybercrime in the past year, with bank customers across the Gulf “vulnerable” to identity theft and financial loss, according to a survey released on Monday.

Consultancy Booz Allen Hamilton surveyed 350 online banking users in Riyadh, Jeddah and Dammam and reviewed their level of vulnerability and awareness towards cyber-attacks.

Despite 30 percent of respondents saying they have experienced cybercrime, 40 percent said they lack an understanding of ‘PC Hygiene’ to protect their computers, and just 45 percent had installed anti-virus software.

According to the Booz Allen survey, 47 percent tend to use unsecure public networks via their cellphones and 64 percent use their smartphones to access online banking accounts. Around 6 percent said they had experienced attempts of password theft.

Saudi consumers are considered heavy users of online banking, illustrating the importance of raising awareness in defending against financial attacks.

“Online banking is here to stay,” says Atif Kureishy, Principal at Booz Allen Hamilton in the Middle East and North Africa.

“We must now bring together banks, regulators, employees and customers to form a strong first-line of defense and minimize the opportunities for cybercriminals to intercept and exploit digital information from across borders,” he added.

According to the Saudi Monetary Agency, a financially motivated cyber-attack is reported every 14 seconds in the GCC countries alone, in figures cited by Booz Allen.

“Booz Allen Hamilton is working with financial institutions and regulatory bodies in the Kingdom to design a framework for curbing the proliferation of cyber-attacks,” the consultancy said in a statement.