Apart from inflation, hunger and poverty, cyber terrorism is yet another thing that would be keeping world leaders up at night. There have been many revelations of cyber-attacks in the Middle East earlier. Like when recently 30,000 workstations at Saudi Aramco were disabled with an aim to stop the flow of oil and gas to domestic and international markets. Attacks like these are predicted to become number one threat to businesses in the next two years. According to research, cyber threats and economic uncertainty could be the biggest future business risks in the GCC. The most critical IT security concerns for the organizations were found to be fraud 15%, theft of intellectual property 17% and industrial espionage 19%. Anticipating a steady rise in the number of cyber-criminals and hackers, cyber-security firms presume coming years to be highly tough.

What’s Coming in 2013?

While revealing the nature of online risks that computer users in UAE might have to face in 2013, anti-virus expert Symantec told that the country is already one of the highly spammed nations in the world where cyber-attacks cost the economy about Dhs1.5 billion ($422 million) a year. What’s more, about 46% of social networking users fell prey to cybercrime on social media networking platforms in 2012, which is higher than the global average of 39%.

Major security trends for 2013 are cyber conflicts, ransomware, mobile adware or madware and monetization of social networks. “In addition to traditional cybercrime, the UAE’s high number of mobile devices per person creates a new avenue for increasingly sophisticated incidents,” said Justin Doo, cloud and security practices director for Middle East and North Africa, Symantec. Moreover, Symantec informed internet users to beware of a new trend called ‘ransomware’, “This infects a computer system and restricts access until a ransom is paid to the creator of the malware”.

Defending the Cyber Borders

In customer service realm, cyber-attacks can deny customers from reaching the products and services, hence causing a monetary loss and low productivity. However, despite the high-stake cyber-security challenges prevalent today, it is not possible to do away with cyber-connectivity. Only implementation of consistent security policies coupled with comprehensive system for the entire IT infrastructure would be the right solution. Likewise, keeping up pace with the Middle East’s IT spending, that is expected to reach $20bn in 2012 reflecting a 10% year-on-year growth rate, the region’s network security market is also predicted to increase at a Compounded Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 18% from 2012 to 2018. Owing to the increased usage of web applications and cloud computing in the region, deployment of integrated security appliances will also rise over the next six years. IT security is fast becoming a key concern among companies and organizations in the GCC. Utilizing fully efficient world class IT security products does not only avoid the possibility of cyber-attacks but also gives confidence that company’s important data is safe and secure.