Cyberattacks in GCC unlikely to subside in 2021

Filed on April 1, 2021
Around 25 per cent of people in the UAE admit to still not using any cyber protection.

The cybersecurity market in the Middle East and Africa is expected to reach $2.9 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.92 per cent during 2021-26.

Cyberattacks in the UAE and the wider GCC region have increased since the outbreak of Covid-19 and this trend will continue in 2021, say industry executives, citing an increase in online users, as well as the growth in the work-from-home culture.

“Attacks have gone up considerably since the outbreak of Covid-19. The UAE, being one of the leading economies in the Middle East, has become the prime target for malicious actors, making it one of the most affected countries in the region, accounting for bulk of the Covid-19 themed attacks in GCC,” said Anand Choudha, CEO and president of Spectrami.

Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, head of UAE Government Cyber Security, had also stated that the country saw a 250 per cent increase in cyberattacks amid the pandemic in 2020.

“It does not look there will be any slowdown in the attacks any time soon. Besides Covid-19, the other major factors driving the threat of cyberattacks in the region are increased work-from-home, as well as the growing vulnerabilities in digital communications networks and supply chains, growth in the user base of online consumers, and most of all, the deficient cybersecurity infrastructure,” said Choudha.

Data from showed that the cybersecurity market in the Middle East and Africa was valued at $1.9 billion in 2020, and it is expected to reach $2.9 billion by 2026, growing at a CAGR of 7.92 per cent during 2021-26.

Peter French, general manager for the Middle East and Africa at Acronis, said people in the region need cyber protection. A survey by Acronis revealed that 25 per cent of people in the UAE admit to still not using any cyber protection, while another 25 per cent said they still did not take extra precautions to protect their data, devices and privacy.

Survey results showed that 36 per cent of respondents said that the biggest IT challenge their organisation has faced during and following the shift to remote work was securing data of their employees remotely, while around 45 per cent said that their organisations experienced data loss, which resulted in business downtime.

According to the UAE Covid-19 Cybercrime Survey conducted by KPMG, 83 per cent of surveyed companies in the UAE stated that they have witnessed a significant increase of 50 per cent in phishing scams, while they registered an 46 per cent increase in email spamming, and observed a growth of 38 per cent in the online scams.

According to a study conducted in 2020 by the Ponemon Institute and IBM Security the cost of a data breach in Saudi Arabia and UAE has risen by 9.4 per cent over the past year. These incidents cost companies $6.53 million per breach on average, which is higher than the global average of $3.86 million per breach.

The study also reported that the breaches that took place in the UAE and Saudi Arabia cost companies on average $188 per lost or stolen record.


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