Category Archives: Banking & Finance

The Abu Dhabi Department Of Finance Improves IT Governance With Nexthink

The Financial Arm of the Government, Abu Dhabi Department of Finance (DOF) has selected Nexthink to implement IT governance; to provide best-in-class financial services and continuity of facilities to local businesses as well as employees.

The DOF plays an essential role in maintaining and developing the government’s financial system, by linking all local government entities and overseeing an integrated management system for financial resources. For such a significant operation, proper functioning of the IT infrastructure and early diagnosis of issues is crucial; to ensure service to employees (end-users) and local businesses is unaffected at all times. Nexthink provides DOF real-time visibility of their infrastructure and accurately shows how software and IT services are being consumed within the entity; enabling the resolution of issues much faster.

“Nexthink provides essential visibility and insight into IT operations and security for IT governance, enabling us to better manage demand, deliver value and protect against risk. Nexthink helps us improve efficiency and productivity, enabling us to resolve issues faster and provide a more proactive level of support,” said Dr. Hazem Turki Alkhatib, CIO, Abu Dhabi Department of Finance. “Also with enormous volume and confidential data, we have a strict security policy that involves our security team to be on the lookout for any suspicious activities. With Nexthink’s investigative IT analytics technology, we are able to detect malware before it spreads into our network and compromises any data.”

The Abu Dhabi DOF strives for continued excellence and innovation by improving asset and savings management, controlling costs and efficient service delivery. Recognized for adopting the latest technologies, the IT team of the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance is responsible for delivering software and services to more than 2,500 employees (end-users) located in its head office and branches across the emirate of Abu Dhabi. With Nexthink, the IT team of DOF is now able to gather comprehensive performance metrics and accurately measure the health of its infrastructure; by receiving real-time alerts concerning non-compliant user behavior and issues therefore improving the quality of service through a better utilized network.

“We are pleased to work with the Abu Dhabi Department of Finance and support its mission to foster an effective financial management framework across the Abu Dhabi government. The IT Analytics solution provided by Nexthink can offer tangible benefits to governmental agencies such as Abu Dhabi Department of Finance to enhance operational efficiency, reduce IT costs, secure data and streamline IT services,” said Maged Eid, Regional Director, Nexthink.


Threats on the rise with ATM and Internet being the prime focus for the Middle East

Paladion Networks, the leading Information Risk Management provider with footprint in 30 countries worldwide including the Middle East, today released its latest Threat Intelligence Report with a special focus on the Middle East. The report is based on research by Paladion Labs, the research wing of Paladion Networks, over the year 2011. Paladion has been operating in the region for over eight years and has offices in the UAE, KSA, Qatar and Oman. In the Middle East, Paladion services over 105 customers in banking, telecom and government sectors. Paladion serves eight out of top 10 telecom companies and 20 out top 25 banks in the region.

According to Rajat Mohanty, CEO, Paladion Networks: “Our conclusions are based on first-hand experience of working in the Middle East with local and multi-national companies from various industry sectors. As revealed in the report, the InfoSecurity threat landscape within enterprises is shifting with changing times and the measures to deal with them are expanding. Overall, while threats are getting more financially motivated and targeted on applications, organizations have lower level of monitoring and higher vulnerabilities on application level which also stay open for much longer compared to network level.”

Firosh Ummer, Executive Director, Paladion Networks (UAE) further added: “Phishing as an attack form has gone down in the region last year. On an average, a bank would have faced around 400-500 phishing incidents last year and the average victim per attack was around 10-15 end consumers. While monetary losses from phishing can be absorbed by the banks, the impact on reputation and customer trust is higher.”

He said: “Given the dominance of certain geographies in attack sources, a differentiated security monitoring strategy with geo-mapping tools can be of value to organizations. Also, as Phishing as a threat is reducing its fizz, there is likely to be some other forms of attack to replace Phishing in near future, and financial institutions in the region  have to gear up other fraud management measures to protect Internet and ATM channels.”

As for the external attacks in the Middle East region, Paladion data shows that on an average, larger organizations face 50 intrusion attempts per month from outside the organization.

Interestingly the current threat scenario as seen in the report proves the importance of Application monitoring in future. However, today enterprises are more focused on monitoring the network periphery compared to Applications. And the need of the hour certainly demands a change in the focus towards the way security is managed at present.

The key findings from this report are as below. The data has been taken from Security Incident Monitoring, Phishing Monitoring, Vulnerability Assessment (VA) and Penetration Testing services carried out by Paladion for 260 companies and 14,000 assets. These companies are medium to large enterprises having a minimum turnover of USD 200 million and 2500 employees. They are spread across India, Middle East and South East Asia, representing various industry verticals.

  • Threats-      be it attacks or phishing- are not random, affecting all organizations      equally but are targeted more at bigger organizations.
  • External      attacks are clearly focused on breaching business applications and while overall      the external attacks (both application and network level) did not raise      much during the year, they rose substantially on the business      applications.
  • In      contrast, the security monitoring effort of organization is focused on      perimeter devices and monitoring of threats on applications level is very      limited.
  • On      the other hand, there was a clear decrease in phishing attacks on      financial institutions in the region. The average return for phishers is      also reducing due to faster takedown and lower victims per site. Phishers      still continue to target business days and business hours while increasing      the attacks during slack period of vacations or festivals.
  • Most      of the external attacks in India and the Middle East region are getting      routed through China and US.
  • Phishing      attacks however predominantly come through US and hardly any phishing      attack was seen routed from China.
  • On      the internal front, more than attacks or malware, it is the policy      violations and unauthorized changes that dominate the internal risks.
  • Security      monitoring is therefore more focused on operational issues such as      configuration changes, user account activity and policy violations.
  • On      the security management side, organizations have improved their network      vulnerability management with average vulnerability discovered per      assessment being 0.7 per asset. However the application level      vulnerabilities are high with average being vulnerability per application      per assessment.
  • Organizations      are facing challenges in managing closure of detected vulnerabilities.  While it is better on network level with half-life of vulnerabilities      being 1-2 months (half the detected vulnerabilities are closed by this time), on the application front the half-life is 3-4 months.

CBI’s alliance with Oman Insurance

Commercial Bank International (CBI) has announced the launch of a strategic alliance with Oman Insurance Company to market a range of insurance products.

The agreement will enable the bank to offer customers a complete range of insurance products through its retail network.

Kris Babicci, Chief Executive Officer of CBI said “ This agreement falls in line with our strategy of building long term partnerships to deliver value based products and services to our customers. We are offering a comprehensive, yet simple range of insurance solutions aligned with our customer’s protection and insurance needs. We will continue to invest in customer centric products, enhance customer service and increase network presence to support growth”.

Speaking on the occasion, Mr. Patrick Choffel, CEO of Oman Insurance Company, the largest insurance company in UAE and second largest in the Middle East said: “This strategic partnership with CBI is a win-win for us as we will be able to offer our products and services to a wider audience. We enjoy tremendous goodwill in the market and this strength complements the bank’s captive clientele with which there is a perfect fit for our insurance products. Our exhaustive product range and acknowledged service strengths are sure to add value to CBI’s customers.”

As part of the agreement, CBI will offer select Bancassurance products through its retail network.


Oman Insurance Company announces new appointments

Oman Insurance Company (PSC), the leading insurance services provider in the UAE and region announced the appointment of a new senior management team.

Patrick Choffel, CEO of Oman Insurance Company commented, “We are pleased to attract the best caliber of executives into the organization. This will enrich and add to the overall professionalism of our Company.  The new team with a strong regional experience is set to implement the strategies defined for further growth and maintain our leading position. The Regional insurance industry does have a great potential and we are ready to tap into new opportunities and develop innovative solutions for our customers.

The first members to have joined are:

Ceri Weaver – New Head of Internal Audit:

Ceri is a Chartered Accountant from the United Kingdom and holds a Bachelor of Science degree with Honors in Mathematics from the University of Bath. With a long experience in both internal and external audit, finance, compliance and risk management, Ceri has worked with several reputed organizations such as MetLife Alico & AIG. He also has several years of Middle Eastern experience.


Bo Werkstrom – New Head of Life and Medical:

Bo worked in various senior positions in leading companies, such as Assicurazioni Generali S.p.A. – Dubai as Senior Actuary and GMD Regional Credit Life Underwriter & Business Development Manager in ALICO MEASA, prior to which he was part of Hannover Re in Paris overseeing the MENA Region.

 Nicolas Kouchnir – New Head of Bancassurance Unit:

Nicolas has over a decade of International Insurance experience, his specialty is Bancassurance, Strategic Planning and Business Development. He began his career with CIGNA in Europe and went on to work with International brokers AON and Willis, in the capacity of Divisional Director for Bancassurance. His Regional experience includes more than 4 years in the Middle East, as Regional Profit Centre (Credit Life) Manager with ALICO, Dubai and then as Vice President of Corporate Sales with Al Rajhi Takaful, Riyadh – KSA, where he achieved a sustainable growth model for his company.

Robert Pereira – New Head of Distribution:

Robert has over 20 years of international general insurance experience in diverse senior executive roles in the Middle East, Latin America, South Asia and the USA. A graduate of both Concordia and McGill Universities, Robert also qualified as a chartered accountant in 1989. For the last six years Robert served AIG as the General Manager for their UAE operations. He also served as Chief Financial Officer and Chief Risk Officer for several AIG regional operations. Robert’s exposure to the industry is global – yet tempered with critical experience in the Middle East.

Bilal Adhani – New Head of Branches, Local and International:

Bilal has over 18 years of International General Insurance experience in the Middle East region, where he held various senior executive positions in both direct insurance companies and brokerage. He started his career with UAP, where he was responsible of managing Abu Dhabi branch. He then moved to AIG and held various senior positions amongst which, Regional Personal Lines Manager – Middle East, Chief Operation Officer of AIG Egypt, and his latest assignment was the Managing Director of AIG Saudi Arabia. For the last two years, he served as the Regional Managing Director for Chedid direct brokerage firm. His extensive experience in the region has enabled him to build and grow successful operations.

Senior Executives are about to join and continue reinforcing our team and help Oman Insurance to maintain and enhance its leadership position.” Mr. Choffel concluded.