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IBM Study reveals that reveals cybersecurity skills gap in some Middle East organizations

2019 IBM study reveals a third of organizations in the Middle East do not have a Cybersecurity Incident response plan in place

Cyber Threat Intelligence, Cyber espionage, IBM Middle East
IBM announced the results of a Middle East study exploring organizations' preparedness in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates when it comes withstanding and recovering from a cyberattack.

The study, conducted by Ponemon Institute and sponsored by IBM Resilient, found that approximately third of organizations are still unprepared to respond to cybersecurity incidents, with 31% of respondents indicating they do not have a cybersecurity incident response plan in place. While studies show that companies who can respond quickly and efficiently to contain a cyberattack within 30 days save over $1 million on the total cost of a data breach on average, Source: IBM/Ponemon Institute Cost of a Data Breach Study shortfalls in proper cybersecurity incident response planning have remained consistent over the past four years of the study.

Of the organizations that do have a plan in place, almost half (49%) do not test their plans regularly, leaving them less prepared to effectively manage the complex processes and coordination that must take place in the wake of an attack.

"Responding to a cybersecurity incident in a planned and coordinated manner can be complicated and requires specialized expertise. Therefore, having a cyber security plan in place is no longer an option," said Dr. Tamer Aboualy, Partner, IBM Security Services, Middle East & Africa. "Cybersecurity attacks can be damaging financially and to the reputation of a businesses. Therefore, it is important that organizations deploy a cybersecurity incident response plan as it increases the likelihood of preventing incidents and reduces the time to detect, contain and respond to an attack."

He continued, "We have seen a rise of targeted attacks in the region and globally. Advanced malware has targeted many organizations with the goal of stealing information, corrupting disks and crippling their operations. Today, it is no longer a question of being a victim of a targeted attack but how organizations will respond and remediate such threats, causing minimal impact to their operations."

Other takeaways from the study include:

Automation in Response Still Emerging - In the context of this research, automation refers to enabling security technologies that augment or replace human intervention in the identification and containment of cyber exploits or breaches. These technologies depend upon artificial intelligence, machine learning, analytics and orchestration. When asked if their organization leveraged automation, only 19% of the respondents said they were significant users.

Skills Still not Paying the Bills - The cybersecurity skills gap is further undermining cyber resilience, as organizations are understaffed and unable to properly manage resources and needs. In the survey, 74% of respondents reported that staffing for cybersecurity is very important to achieve a high level of cyber resilience. Furthermore, 72% of respondents rate their difficulty in hiring and retaining skilled cybersecurity personnel as moderately high to high.

Privacy and Cybersecurity Tied at Hip -Organizations are finally acknowledging that collaboration between privacy and cybersecurity improves cyber resilience with 55% of respondents indicated that aligning privacy and cybersecurity roles is essential or very important.

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