Are ME businesses overly confident about keeping hackers at bay?
Despite nearly 1.4 billion data records globally and 45.2 million data records in the Middle East being lost or stolen in 2016, the vast majority of IT professionals still believe perimeter security is effective at keeping unauthorised users out of their networks.
However, companies are under investing in technology that adequately protects their business, according to the findings of the fourth-annual Data Security Confidence Index released recently by the leading digital security firm Gemalto.
Surveying 1,050 IT decision makers worldwide, Middle East businesses feel that perimeter security is keeping them safe, with most (84 per cent) believing that it is quite effective at keeping unauthorised users out of their network. However, 66 per cent are not extremely confident their data would be protected, should their perimeter be breached.
Perimeter security is the focus, but understanding of technology and data security is lacking
Many businesses are continuing to prioritise perimeter security without realising it is largely ineffective against sophisticated cyberattacks. According to the research findings, 74 per cent of Middle East IT professionals said their organisation had increased investment in perimeter security technologies such as firewalls, IDPS, antivirus, content filtering and anomaly detection to protect against external attackers. Despite this investment, 74 per cent believe that unauthorised users could access their network, rendering their perimeter security ineffective.
These findings suggest that there is a lack of confidence in the solutions used, especially as half (50 per cent) of Middle East organisations have seen their perimeter security breached in the past 12 months. The reality of the situation is worsened when considering that, on average, less than 5 per cent of data breached (4 per cent) was encrypted.
Businesses’ confidence is further undermined by over half of respondents (52 per cent) not knowing where [all] their sensitive data is stored.
In addition, over a third of businesses (36 per cent) do not encrypt valuable information such as payment and over a half (54 per cent) do not encrypt customer data This means that, should the data be stolen, a hacker would have full access to this information, and can use it for crimes including identify theft, financial fraud or ransomware.
“It is clear that there is a divide between organisations’ perceptions of the effectiveness of perimeter security and the reality. By believing that their data is already secure businesses are failing to prioritise the measures necessary to protect the data they hold and instead focusing on perimeter security that alone is not sufficient to protect critical data,” said Sebastien Pavie, Enterprise & Cybersecurity Director for Middle-East, Africa & Turkey, Gemalto.
“Businesses need to be aware that hackers are after a company’s most valuable asset – data. It’s important to focus on protecting this resource, otherwise reality will inevitably bite those that fail to do so,” he continued.
Most Businesses are unprepared for GDPR
With the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) becoming enforceable in May 2018, businesses must understand how to comply by properly securing personal data to avoid of the risk of administrative fines and reputational damage. However, in the Middle East, 30 per cent say they do not believe they will be fully compliant with GDPR by May next year. With less than a year to go, businesses must begin introducing the correct security protocols in their journey to reaching GDPR compliance, including encryption, two-factor authentication and key management strategies.
Pavie continues, “Investing in cybersecurity has clearly become more of a focus for businesses in the last 12 months. However, what is of concern is that so few are adequately securing the most vulnerable and crucial data they hold, or even understand where it is stored. This is standing in the way of GDPR compliance, and before long the businesses that don’t improve their cybersecurity will face severe legal, financial and reputational consequences.
GDPR is equally important in the Middle East as several companies in the region conduct business and transact in European markets. More and more countries globally are beginning to adopt stringent data protection laws and the UAE is no exception with its National Electronic Security Authority, governing critical data protection and advancing cybersecurity in the nation. Globally, companies need to realise that being breached is an inevitability and customers will not put up with those that can’t protect their data. In order to be compliant, businesses must follow the six-step process outlined in the GDPR legislation.”