Cybersecurity and the Middle East worry

Cybersecurity and the Middle East worry
Recent years have seen the global security industry struggling to keep the growing cybersecurity threats at bay. From malware and ransomware attacks to social engineering and hacking attacks have kept organizations on their toes.

As with anywhere else in the world, cybersecurity is a major issue in the Middle East as well. However, according to a recent report from PricewaterhouseCoopers that revealed cybersecurity fears of CEOs, leaders in the Middle East ranked the fears higher than anywhere else, at 54 percent.

Separate reports from the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) and McAfee also said that the United Arab Emirates (UAE) is the second biggest target for cybercrime, costing the country about US$1.4 billion a year. A 2017 report from the antivirus solutions provider Norton also showed that about 47.9 hours were lost per consumer due to cybercrime in the country. To put this in perspective, the global average is 23.6 hours per consumer.

Cyber in physical in the age of digitization

The importance of cybersecurity in the sphere of physical security is no longer ignored. Steps to handle the issue in the Middle East have become all-the-more crucial as the region moves further toward smarter cities that rely on digitization.

“Cybersecurity and hacking continue to make headlines across the world,” said Jamil Al Asfar, Senior Sales Manager for Middle East and Africa at IDIS. “And customers are justifiably asking more questions when it comes to network security. They are looking for surveillance systems that use end-to-end data and communication encryption from video capture to transfer. They want to see passwords enforced that are encrypted together with two-factor authentication. They also need manufacturers to dispel the common fear of ‘backdoors’ through the assurance they cannot access a system once it’s installed.”

Fahmi Jabri, Business Leader for the Middle East, Africa and Turkey at Honeywell Commercial Security, added that as technologies evolve, systems become robust but that also paves way for new forms of threats to come up.

“While some threats recede, others mature, and new risks emerge,” Jabri said. “Cyberattacks are creating potential safety and economic risk for individuals, companies, economies and countries. Cybersecurity awareness has been improving and customers have started to ask about the reliability of the solutions placed in their facilities. Having said that, cybersecurity is a moving target and to mitigate those risks, manufacturers must have clear process and procedures to ensure that their solutions are cybersecure. On the other hand, the facility owners should make sure their IT networks are protected and monitored at any time.”

Where does the problem lie?

Al Asfar pointed out that most end users should know that breaches are often a result of human error by failing to apply best practices, particularly when installing large systems that require hundreds of device passwords. For convenience and speed, passwords are often saved in vulnerable spreadsheets residing on unencrypted hard drives. This particular challenge can be overcome by utilizing true zero configuration, plug-and-play technology that eliminates that need for systems integrators to manage every device with a corresponding password.

“And network security isn’t something that can be engineered, set up and then ignored,” Al Asfar continued. “As threats change and new attacks are developed, systems and networks must keep up. Customers want assurances from manufacturers that updates will be issued quickly, so they always have the latest software and firmware to protect against the ever-changing cybersecurity environment.”

Aditya Khemka, MD of CP Plus, too pointed out similar steps that need to be taken in order to maintain a standard level of protection. Changing the default password is definitely one among them.

Binson Xu, Regional President at Hikvision MENA, agreed on the presence of such concerns adding that his company is planning to increase network security investment. Hikvision has already established the network security, cooperated with third-party laboratories and obtained important certifications such as CC.


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