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One in two Gulf firms reports increase in cybersecurity incidents: Study

8 Dec 2020

Gulf Business Machines (GBM) has revealed the findings of the ninth edition of its annual cybersecurity report. This year’s report highlighted how risk priorities have changed for organisations in the Gulf due to the COVID-19 pandemic, and what cybersecurity strategies businesses are employing as they accelerate their digital transformation. 

The latest GBM security report, polled security executives and professionals from a range of industries in the UAE, Oman, Bahrain and Kuwait. 

The report focused on the increased cybersecurity risks due to the expansion of the distributed workforce during the pandemic, with one in two Gulf organisations reporting an increase in the number of attacks on their digital infrastructure. The surveyed organisations also highlighted that securing data has become essential to building trust with customers, with 84 per cent of those surveyed planning to invest in data security over the next year.

This year has seen an increased focus on budget rationalisation and cash preservation. According to International Data Corporation (IDC), a reported 58 per cent of organisations in the Gulf (excluding Saudi Arabia) are accelerating their digital initiatives and about 47 per cent are continuing with the initiatives as planned at the beginning of the year. The rapid shifts in technology adoption are leading to a significant reprioritisation of risks in 2020, which in turn requires CISOs and CIOs to invest in security technologies and processes differently to ensure holistic security.

In order to ensure business continuity during the pandemic, securing the digital infrastructure in a distributed working environment is a key focus area for 71 per cent of Gulf organisations. With the imminent availability of 5G, cloud adoption acceleration, and application explosion, data growth will also further accelerate. Data discovery and classification have been identified as the initial steps organisations need to take on the data security journey; however this is a major challenge and weakness for almost one out of every two organisations surveyed.

Hani Nofal, vice president of Digital Infrastructure Solutions at GBM said, “This year, the sudden unexpected shift to a distributed workforce led organisations to accelerate their digital transformation efforts to meet customers’ and operational agility needs. As a young and tech-savvy region, we have an opportunity to leverage technology to soften the impact of the economic downturn and expedite the recovery. 

“But with this comes a new threat landscape which requires organisations to invest in new technologies and processes that ensure a holistic approach to security. The key learning for organisations this year is that their rapidly expanding digital footprint, coupled with the continuously growing threat landscape has highlighted the need for security to be a key discussion in the boardroom.”

Meanwhile, as organisations saw increased cloud adoption as part of their digital transformation efforts this year, the report also addressed companies’ concerns regarding data and cloud security in their move towards cloud. 

Some 34 per cent of the surveyed organisations were concerned that their cloud security measures were ineffective and 66 per cent found that managing the identities and access of their users in diverse cloud environments was challenging. 

Over the next year, securing cloud is expected to be a significant focus area for 66 per cent of the surveyed organisations.


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