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MENA region strains under intensified security risks

Security experts highlight need to strengthen cybersecurity in the Middle East at (ISC)² Secure Summit MENA

MENA region strains under intensified security risks
Cybersecurity is an increasingly significant field of knowledge that has to constantly evolve to keep up with emerging threats, Davis said.

Almost two thirds of information security professionals in the Middle East are not confident in their company's preparedness to cope with cybersecurity incidents, a cyber security summit has heard.

These are the results of a survey, the Global Information Security Workforce Study, released at the (ISC)² Secure Summit MENA held recently.

Lack of qualified professionals, low security awareness and inadequate funding for security initiatives were among the main factors cited by Middle East-based respondents to explain why they feel ill-equipped to manage cyber threats.

Forty-three percent of the respondents surveyed said their organisations do not provide enough professional training for their information security workforce. The study also identified data exposure, hacking, cyber terrorism and ransomware as top frontline concerns.

Adrian Davis, managing director for the EMEA region at (ISC)² and chair of the event, said: “This year has seen some of biggest cybersecurity breaches, from the French presidential election hacks to the WannaCry ransomware that affected more than 10,000 organisations across 150 countries. Cybersecurity is an increasingly significant field of knowledge that has to constantly evolve to keep up with emerging threats, which is why professional communities like (ISC)² have an important role to play.”

The two-day (ISC)² Secure Summit MENA examined how organisations are changing with new technologies, analysed key trends in cybersecurity and explored the new landscape of cyber risk management.

During her session on security trends and threats in the Middle East, Lorna Trayan, associate partner at IBM Security Services, said: “The cybersecurity trends and threats in the region are evolving very quickly. This year saw the emergence of strategic and tactical threat intelligence, such as security artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and security analytics – all concepts that would have sounded like science fiction just a few years back. To stay ahead of the threats, we need to leverage smart and structured solutions such as AI to help forge the path towards a more secure world.”

Meanwhile, Yves Le Roux, EMEA Advisory Council co-chair and privacy workgroup lead at (ISC)², held a workshop on the concerns, implications and best practices related to the updated EU General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), slated for implementation in May 2018. Aimed at strengthening and unifying data protection for all EU residents, GDPR also affects Middle East companies doing business in Europe or handling European data.

Le Roux said: “GDPR implementation is a positive move, as its far-reaching impact can help boost data security practices here in the Middle East. Companies in the region can benefit from GDPR compliance and should educate their cybersecurity personnel on the requirements.”

(ISC)² is an international non-profit professional organisation that educates and certifies cybersecurity experts. Developed by the Centre for Cyber Safety and Education and Frost & Sullivan, (ISC)²’s eighth biennial study surveyed 19,600 professionals globally, out of which 518 were from the Middle East region.

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