Over confidence brews across regional businesses

According to the findings of the fourth-annual Data Security Confidence Index by Gemalto found out that 84% of Middle East businesses feel perimeter security is keeping them safe, with most believing that it is quite effective at keeping unauthorised users out of their network. However, 66% are not extremely confident their data would be protected, should their perimeter be breached.

These statistics comes as a surprise especially, when according to Breach Level Index, approximately 45.2 million data records in the Middle East being lost or stolen in the year 2016. the vast majority of IT professionals still believe perimeter security is effective at keeping unauthorised users out of their networks.

Many businesses are continuing to prioritise perimeter security without realising it is largely ineffective against sophisticated cyberattacks. According to the research findings, 74% 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% 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%) 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%) was encrypted.
Businesses’ confidence is further undermined by over half of respondents (52%) not knowing where [all] their sensitive data is stored. In addition, over a third of businesses (36%) do not encrypt valuable information such as payment and over a half (54%) 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 at 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.

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% 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.