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Safeguarding Saudi Arabia's hybrid future with an extended approach to cybersecurity
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 16 - 09 - 2021

We have always lived with change "as a constant". It is the very nature of our world. In the technology space, however, we see something beyond constant change. We see a constant acceleration in the rate of change. Last year, it became apparent to organizations across the region that adapting to this acceleration would mean the difference between survival and obscurity.
One of the major changes that enterprises had to face in 2020 was the adoption of the remote working model, which has now transitioned into a 'hybrid work' phase as businesses return to the office. And this new model has become part of our corporate reality as many enterprises are now offering it as an option to employees.
But to make hybrid work a success, we must consider the security implications as workforces now join their corporate environments via different networks and devices day after day. The threat landscape has never had any problem adapting. Bad actors are out there to find a vulnerability — gain a foothold and do damage.
Trend Micro's Security Round-Up report for 2020 (The Constant State of Flux) revealed that our solutions detected and blocked more than 56 million email threats, and prevented 6.5 million malicious URL attacks from almost 17,000 hosts in the Kingdom. Additionally, more than 3 million malware attacks were identified and stopped.
The report also highlighted an alarming number of home networks in Saudi Arabia being targeted by cybercriminals. Predictably, the new work-from-home setup has created a new set of priorities for companies. And it's not just the remote work setup. Multi-cloud environments and the volume of devices connecting and operating over such networks has not only been challenging to implement but presents a range of issues around security.
In an economic environment where each organization is in recovery mode, the downtime, brand slippage, and cost associated with a cyber incident cannot be easily absorbed. And hence, there is an urgent need to adopt robust cybersecurity measures to discover, assess, maintain, and monitor such threats to constrain better and manage the risk.
In pursuit of Vision 2030, Saudi Arabia has taken a strong line on cybersecurity. In June, the Global Cybersecurity Index ranked the kingdom second in its commitment to protecting its digital infrastructure. Organizations across the country must now recognize the criticality of the moment in which they find themselves.
To align with Vision 2030 is to understand that cybersecurity cannot be left to chance given the expansion of the attack surface brought about by hybrid work and cloud adoption. It is time for all enterprises to reassess their threat posture and strengthen their infrastructure with an approach that is comprehensive and adaptive.
The solution is a platform that is sensitive to all digital assets and equips security teams with the tools to adapt to IT sprawl. Approaches like XDR (Extended Detection and Response) and Zero Trust models enable enterprises to adopt the appropriate stance. They provide enhanced visibility, threat intelligence, and detection capabilities. They can reach into every corner and crevice in an IT environment — a particular boon in a hybrid-working world.
With government support, Saudi enterprises should leverage the lessons learned, and guidance given, to equip themselves with strong security solutions that can secure their digital estates from the unforgiving threat landscape. We must realize one simple truth — economic recovery and prosperity hinges upon a private sector that is free to innovate without the constant fear of digital invasion. Adoption of the right threat posture is the difference between steaming ahead and grinding to a halt.
— The writer is Country Manager, Trend Micro KSA

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