Cyber-attacks a growing risk in the Middle East

Global threats have reached their highest recorded level, increasing 14 per cent from 2012 to 2013.

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Businesses in the Middle East are facing a growing risk of cyber-attacks, says an annual security report released on Monday.

Total global threats have reached their highest recorded level, increasing 14 per cent from 2012 to last year, according to the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report.

A sample of 30 of the world’s largest Fortune 500 companies generated visitor traffic to websites that host malware, with a sharp rise in malware attacks on the Middle East’s oil and gas sector.

“Organisations across the Middle East and Africa must realise that it is no longer if they will be targeted by cyber-attacks, but when,” said Rabih Dabboussi, managing director at Cisco UAE. “Chief information security officers face growing pressure to protect terabytes of data on an increasingly porous network, manage information safely, especially on the cloud, and evaluate the risks of working with third-party vendors for specialised solutions – all in the wake of shrinking budgets and leaner IT teams.”

The report says the Middle East and Africa region posts a strong adoption of smart devices, set to grow from 133 million this year to 598 million in 2018.

But that also means more complex security threats. Businesses across the Middle East are at high risk, with 65 per cent of employees not understanding the security risks of using personal devices in the workplace, Cisco’s recent Middle East ICT Security Study says.

As a result, cyber-criminals are increasingly attacking internet infrastructure rather than individual computers or devices, with password and credential theft, infiltrations, and breaching and stealing data.