Gitex: Most UAE companies plan to boost AI investments to strengthen cyber security

About 81% of chief executives believe the technology is critical for their organisation’s overall approach to protecting their networks, Palo Alto Networks study shows

Artificial intelligence and machine learning are vital parts of a holistic security solution, Palo Alto Networks said in a study. PA
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About 95 per cent of organisations in the UAE plan to boost their artificial intelligence investments to make their cyber security infrastructure stronger, a report has shown.

AI alone is an important enabler, with 81 per cent of chief executives in the Emirates believing the rapidly evolving technology is critical for the overall approach of their organisations to cyber security, California-based Palo Alto Networks said in a study released at the Gitex Global technology conference in Dubai on Wednesday.

AI and machine learning are helping to boost cyber security measures within organisations by automating and removing manual processes across operations, making it possible to prevent more risks from becoming security incidents, Ercan Aydin, regional vice president for the Middle East and Africa at Palo Alto Networks, told The National in an interview.

“When evaluating cyber security and the implementation of AI, it’s important that organisations understand what data is available for AI to learn from. The more real-world data it acquires, the smarter it becomes and the more experience it can leverage,” he said.

“In order to meet the challenges and speed of today’s threat landscape, AI and machine learning are vital parts of a holistic security solution and should be focused on the ultimate outcome of prevention and response.”

The research, conducted by London-based Censuswide, revealed that 94 per cent of UAE respondents understand the potential cyber risks, with 89 per cent saying their organisation was ready to confront any attacks.

However, 52 per cent of organisations in the country said they had seen an increase in cyber attacks over the past 12 months.

“Attacks are increasing in sophistication and hackers are using more automated toolchains, which means a rapidly evolving threat landscape,” Mr Aydin said.

“The only way organisations will be able to stay one step ahead of bad actors in the future is by deploying AI and automation trained on quality data.”

Cyber security attacks can cause reputational and financial damages to people and companies. The global average for a data breach in 2022 was $4.35 million, up from $4.24 million the previous year, according to IBM's latest Cost of a Data Breach report.

This has prompted companies to enhance their IT infrastructure and personnel, which in turn is an opportunity for providers of cyber security solutions.

The UAE last month announced plans to develop a cyber security vision that will strengthen action against digital crime for the next 50 years.

The Middle East's cyber security market is projected to be worth $31 billion by 2030 as governments and enterprises take measures to protect their infrastructure, the latest data from consultancy Frost & Sullivan has shown.

“If you prevent more risks, then the organisation can respond more effectively as it will be responding to fewer actual security incidents,” Mr Aydin said.

About 70 per cent of chief executives said cyber security was a board-level issue within their organisation, with 39 per cent claiming joint accountability with the chief information officer when it comes to ensuring their organisation is protected against cyber attacks, the study found.

Previous company data showed that AI has helped Palo Alto Networks to analyse 1.5 million new attacks “that have never been seen before”. These new insights are added to its existing data set to block about 8.6 billion attacks across its customer base on a daily basis, it said.

My Aydin said organisations could maximise the value of AI “by using modern security orchestration technologies and processes to build strong defences for today and tomorrow”.

Updated: October 19, 2023, 9:50 AM