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Middle East businesses face rising cyberattacks
Published in The Saudi Gazette on 05 - 03 - 2014

RIYADH – Middle East businesses face unprecedented levels of cyberattacks, as global security vulnerabilities and threats against systems, applications, and personal networks have reached their highest-ever recorded level, Cisco has announced in the Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report.
In the rapidly evolving world of security threats, total global threat alerts increased 14 percent year-on-year from 2012 to 2013. Around the world, a sample of 30 of the world's largest Fortune 500 companies generated visitor traffic to websites that host malware, with the Middle East's energy, oil, and gas sector seeing a sharp rise in malware attacks.
“Organizations across the Middle East and Africa must realize that it is no longer if they will be targeted by cyberattacks, but rather when,” said Dr. Tarig Enaya, Managing Director of Cisco Saudi Arabia. “Chief Information Security Officers face growing pressure to protect terabytes of data on an increasingly porous network, manage information safely especially on the cloud, and evaluate the risks of working with third-party vendors for specialized solutions – all in the wake of shrinking budgets and leaner IT teams.”
The Middle East and Africa region is posting strong adoption of smart devices, set to grow from 133 million in 2013 to 598 million in 2018, and cloud computing, set to post the world's-strongest cloud traffic growth rate from 17 exabytes in 2012 to 157 exabytes in 2017, according to Cisco.
However, while increasing mobility is rapidly enhancing daily lives and businesses, it is also driving more complex security threats and solutions. Businesses across the Middle East are at high risk, with 65 percent of employees not understanding the security risks of using personal devices to the workplace, according to Cisco's recent Middle East ICT Security Study.
As a result, cybercriminals are increasingly attacking Internet infrastructure rather than individual computers or devices, with password and credential theft, hidden-in-plain-sight infiltrations, and breaching and stealing data.
The Cisco 2014 Annual Security Report also flagged up a host of troublesome trends, including Android mobile devices bearing the brunt of 99 percent of all mobile malware, Java being the most frequently exploited programming language, and Multipurpose Trojans counting as the most frequently encountered Web-delivered malware.
Specific business sectors besides energy, such as pharmaceutical, chemical, electronics manufacturing, agriculture; and mining are showing sharp rise in malware attacks.
Furthermore, the report indicates a shortage of more than 1 million security professionals across the globe in 2014, as most organizations do not have the people or systems to continuously monitor extended networks or detect infiltrations, and then apply protections, in a timely and effective manner.
Anticipating the high demand for state-of-the-art security solutions, Cisco and its company Sourcefire have fully integrated the Advanced Malware Protection solution into Cisco's Content Security Portfolio of products, including Web, Email Security Appliances, and Cloud Web Security Service, to protect the more than 60 million enterprise and commercial users who use Content Security solutions.
Advanced Malware Protection's effectiveness draws from integrating Cisco and Sourcefire cloud security intelligence networks, in order to detect and protect against cyberattacks. The solution also evolves to provide continuous monitoring and analysis across the extended network before, during, and after an attack, along with retrospective remediation of advanced threats.
By combining Sourcefire's deep knowledge of advanced threats and analytics expertise with Cisco's industry leading Email and Web Security solutions, customers benefit from unmatched visibility and control, combined with a cost-effective, seamless approach to addressing advanced malware problems.

“In order to restore trust in people, institutions, and technologies, our Advanced Malware Protection solution empowers defenders with real-time knowledge about expanding attack surfaces, and provides our customers with the best advanced malware protection – from the cloud to network to endpoint,” Enaya pointed out. — SG


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