Uncovering Middle East security trends and priorities with CXO Priorities

Uncovering Middle East security trends and priorities with CXO Priorities

We are living in a truly digital age where technology is revolutionising every daily activity we complete. Whether it’s accessing healthcare services, managing finances through online banking, engaging in remote education, shopping via e-commerce platforms, or optimising manufacturing processes through automation and data analytics, technology is omnipresent.

As technology continues to advance at an unprecedented rate, its impact on various sectors will only deepen, reshaping the way we live, work and interact with the world around us. However, this digitalisation means the attack surface has expanded rapidly, with malicious actors presented with a plethora of opportunities to target organisations.

Against a backdrop of an increasingly complex and sophisticated threat landscape, and business challenges such as a cyberskills shortage and awareness training, Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) face multiple challenges as they strive to secure their organisations’ digital assets. The emergence of AI is also providing opportunities to attackers and the rising simplicity with which attacks can be executed is a concern among industry professionals.

However, AI also holds immense potential as a game-changer for defenders, providing advanced capabilities to strengthen cyberdefences and mitigate emerging threats.

To find out more about the current cybersecurity and IT challenges facing enterprises in the Middle East, CXO Priorities in partnership with Intelligent CISO surveyed 150 CISOs and those in similar roles to find out about the key challenges they’re encountering, how they anticipate AI will impact the industry and how they’re planning for future investment. The report aims to present an overview of the current cyberthreat landscape, explore the complexities of managing cybersecurity and reveal how organisations plan to prioritise and invest.

In this month’s Secure Horizons feature, we take a look at this research and the key findings.

CISOs optimistic about AI

CISOs in the Middle East agree that AI will be a force for good to the industry, with 83% supporting this sentiment – a testament to the widespread optimism regarding the potential of the technology.

All respondents said their organisation was looking to deploy AI solutions for cybersecurity, with 40% stating they were ‘fully prepared’ and 60% indicating they were ‘preparing to deploy’. This highlights the direction that the industry is taking when it comes to integrating AI into security strategies. As the technology continues to evolve, CISOs will look to AI solutions to support their overall aims.

A majority of respondents foresee AI enhancing their organisation’s cybersecurity posture within the next year – with 37% anticipating a significant improvement, 28% a moderate improvement and 29% a minor improvement within the next year.

Cybersecurity professionals expect threat detection, vulnerability management and threat intelligence to be key areas which will benefit most from AI. With AI able to process vast amounts of data quickly, as well as analyse patterns and anomalies in data, there are opportunities for cybsersecurity teams to get ahead of attackers.

As highlighted throughout this report, AI has become a major talking point across the global IT playing field. Organisations far and wide are adapting their business models to make way for AI’s capabilities, particularly when it comes to cybersecurity. Our data shows 35% of people we spoke to believe it will even the playing field between attackers, while 20% think it will enable attackers to gain the upper hand. A large percentage of people we surveyed (45%) believe AI will enable defenders to gain the upper hand – an interesting result.

Fostering a culture of cyber-resilience

The cybersecurity landscape is complex, not only due to the diverse range of threats that proliferate, but also the business challenges that CISOs are grappling with daily. Cybersecurity is a concern for every organisation, with all verticals united by a core challenge – keeping attackers out.

While the survey findings highlight a generally positive outlook among cybersecurity professionals regarding their organisation’s ability to defend against emerging threats, there is more to be done to cast this confidence even wider, emphasising the need for continual vigilance and investment in cybersecurity measures.

With phishing and social engineering and insider threats positioned within the top three cybersecurity challenges identified by CISOs, there is a need for tailored cyberawareness and training to keep the ‘human’ line of defence robust.

Ransomware also remains a key threat so technology investments should ensure this is considered. Addressing the complexities in managing cybersecurity – including regulations, managing the technology stack and the rapidly evolving technology landscape – demands comprehensive strategies encompassing technology, personnel and regulatory compliance.

The widespread belief in AI as a force for good in the cybersecurity industry reflects optimism about its potential to level the playing field against attackers. Organisations are actively looking to deploy AI solutions for cybersecurity, with the majority indicating preparedness or active preparation for deployment which hints at the future direction of the industry.

Investment trends reveal a positive shift in cybersecurity budgets, with a substantial increase reported by the majority of respondents. Advanced threat detection and cloud security are identified as top investment areas, highlighting a strategic alignment with evolving cybersecurity challenges.

Looking ahead, participants prioritise investments in Quantum Computing security and AI/ML, reflecting a recognition of their critical role in shaping the future landscape of cybersecurity.

In conclusion, the findings emphasise the importance of leveraging AI for cybersecurity to navigate the threat landscape effectively. Organisations must remain proactive, adaptable and committed to fostering a culture of cyber-resilience to safeguard against emerging threats in an increasingly digital world. To read the full report, click here Middle East Security Trends and Priorities Report 2024 (cxopriorities.com)

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