By now, we are all accustomed to the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the impact that it is having on society.

We have effectively shifted the focus from the impact of the 4IR on society to its impact in the corporate world, particularly when it comes to jobs. We understand the job market is changing and that jobs which are popular today will either be done by artificial intelligence in the future or will simply not exist.

One of the major beneficiaries of the increased focus on the 4IR is the cyber security industry. Cyber criminals are more focused and more motivated to commit their crimes. In response, the value of the cyber security market has increased exponentially.

Massive growth.

According to a recent report, the Middle Eastern Cybersecurity pre-COVID 19 Market size projected to grow from $16.1 billion in 2020 to $28.7 billion by 2025, at a Compound Annual Growth Rate (CAGR) of 12.2%. The post-COVID 19 market size is projected to grow from $15.6 billion in 2020 to $29.9 billion by 2025, at a CAGR of 13.8% during the forecast period.

The report adds that the cybersecurity solutions and services help companies to protect their endpoints, network, ICS, and cloud environment from advanced threats such as malware, ransomware, DDoS attacks, and Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs). Moreover, increasing demand from Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) operating across diverse industry verticals and countries is expected to drive the market growth during the forecast period.

Network security segment to play a key role.

The report indicates that the network security segment is estimated to have the largest market size during the forecast period in the Post-COVID scenario. With the growth of COVID-19-related adaption in remote working practices, the network of enterprises in the Middle East has been jeopardized.

The report adds that organizations are adopting measures to combat the situation and are collaborating with security vendors to manage the situation effectively. Increasing vulnerability on the network in the energy and utilities, BFSI, and IT and ITeS industry verticals are triggering the growth of the Middle East Cybersecurity Market.

The healthcare vertical is expected to grow at the highest CAGR

The report points out that the healthcare industry vertical is expected to contribute the largest market share and expected to grow at the highest CAGR from 2019 to 2025 in the Middle East Cybersecurity Market due to the technological proliferation of healthcare applications and increased instances of data thefts in the sector.

The report adds that the government and defence sector is expected to grow at the second-highest CAGR from 2019 to 2025 in the Middle East Cybersecurity Market, due to increasing instances of cyberattacks on the government sector and the government-regulated oil and gas companies. The demand for cybersecurity solutions is rising, as the adoption of these solutions provides advanced protection from cyber threats without affecting the operational efficiency.

Saudi Arabia is expected to contribute the largest market share.

The report points out that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is expected to have the largest market share and dominate the Middle East Cybersecurity Market from 2019 to 2025, due to the need to safeguard enterprises in various industrial verticals such as BFSI, energy and utilities, government and defence, healthcare, IT and ITeS and others from advanced threats.

The report adds that Israel offers potential growth opportunities in the Middle East Cybersecurity Market as there is a wide presence of SMEs that are turning towards cybersecurity solutions to efficiently safeguard their business endpoints, network, application, and cloud environment.

Exceptional value.

Recent reports cited by Forbes indicates that an increased focus on cyber security is proving to be extremely beneficial to companies. Particularly SMEs who have found that they are being targeted more often than larger companies.

The global cybersecurity market is currently worth $173B in 2020, growing to $270B by 2026. By 2026, 77% of cybersecurity spending will be for externally managed security services.  While money spent on in-house or internal cybersecurity functions is expected to grow 7.2% each year to 2026, global spending on external cybersecurity products and services is projected to increase by 8.4% annually over the same period. Source: Australian Cyber Security Growth Network, SCP - Chapter 1 - The global outlook for cybersecurity, 2020.

COVID acceleration.

The Forbes article points out that network, data, and endpoint security are the three leading use cases of A.I. in cybersecurity today, according to I.T. executives. Capgemini interviewed I.T. executives from ten nations to gain new insights into A.I.’s most popular use cases for cybersecurity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated each of these use cases, with endpoint security becoming the most urgent priority, as nearly every organization has employees working from home.

A global forward movement.

The Forbes article pointed out that the global cybersecurity market is predicted to grow from $167.1 billion in 2019 to $248.26 billion by 2023, attaining a 10.4% CAGR, according to Statista.

Worldwide security spending on Identity Access Management reached $10.58B in 2019. The study also found that spending on security services, the largest segment of the information security market, reached $64.24B in 2019 as well.

Mobile threats.

The Forbes article pointed out that 87% of enterprises are seeing mobile threats growing the fastest this year, outpacing other threat types, based on Verizon’s Mobile Security Index 2019. Mobile devices and the identities they represent are the new security perimeter for every organization today.  

The article added that, by killing passwords and replacing them with a zero-trust framework, breach attempts launched from any mobile device using pirated privileged access credentials can be thwarted. Leaders in the area of mobile-centric zero trust security include MobileIron, whose innovative approach to zero sign-on solves the problems of passwords at scale.

When every mobile device is secured through a zero-trust platform built on a foundation of unified endpoint management (UEM) capabilities, zero sign-on from managed and unmanaged services become achievable for the first time.

Not enough growth.

The Forbes article pointed out that the global cyber insurance market, as measured by gross written premiums, is forecast to be $8 billion by 2020, compared to a $124 billion global cybersecurity market.  

The article added that organizations primarily focus their cyber risk management strategies on prevention by investing in technological frontline cyber defences. Meanwhile, spending on other tools and resources for cyber risk management, such as cyber insurance or event response training, remains a fraction of the technology budget.

Encryption failures.

The Forbes article pointed out that over 42% of endpoints experience encryption failures, leaving entire networks at risk from a breach and 100% of all devices experiencing encryption failures within one year. They are most commonly disabled by users, malfunction, or have error conditions or have never been installed correctly in the first place.

The article adds that Absolute Software’s 2019 Endpoint Security Trends Report found that endpoints often failed due to the fragile nature of their encryption agents’ configurations. 2% of encryption agents fail every week, and over half of all encryption failures occurred within two weeks, fuelling a constant 8% rate of decay every 30 days.

Multiple endpoint security solutions conflict with each other and create more opportunities for breaches than avert them. The study is based on data gathered from over 1B change events on over 6M devices is the basis of the multi-phased methodology. The devices represent data from 12,000 anonymized organizations across North America and Europe. Each device had Absolute’s endpoint visibility and control platform activated.

667% increase in spear-fishing attacks.

The Forbes article pointed out that there has been a 667% increase in spear-fishing e-mail attacks related to COVID-19 since the end of February alone. Microsoft thwarts billions of phishing attempts a year on Office365 alone by relying on heuristics, detonation, and machine learning, strengthened by Microsoft Threat Protection Services.

The article added that Kount discovered that e-mail age is one of the most reliable identity trust signals there are for identifying and stopping automated, fraudulent activity. Based on their research and product development, Kount announced Email First Seen capabilities as part of its AI-powered Identity Trust Global Network, which consists of fraud and trust signals from over half a billion email addresses. It also spans 32 billion annual interactions and 17.5 billion devices across 75 business sectors and 50-plus payment providers and card networks. The following is an overview of Kount’s technology stack and their Email First Seen solution.

Rely on AI.

The article points out that enterprises who lead their industries in cyber resilience rely in A.I. to reduce the number of successful attacks and deliver a more consistent quality of response.

The article adds that Accenture found that when it comes to cyber resilience, there is an elite group of leader companies that comprised 17% of their sample, with 74% being average performers. Leaders know which technologies help to achieve a broader level of cybersecurity success. According to Accenture, non-leaders should consider refocusing their investment priorities toward the technologies which bring benefits that help to fill in some of the performance gaps and achieve a broader level of cybersecurity success.

Remote working risk.

The Forbes article pointed out that 71% of UK-based business decision makers believe the shift to 100% remote working during the COVID-19 crisis has increased the likelihood of a cyber-breach. 53% believe that privileged IT admin remote access is at risk of security breach and 46% have already noted an increase in phishing attacks since implementing a policy of widespread remote working. 79% of business decision makers have increased their cyber security procedures to manage high volumes of remote access over the next three months.

The article added that 73% of businesses have given staff extra training on how to remain cyber-safe when working remotely, with specific training around verifying passwords and log-in credentials. “Cyber criminals will no doubt attempt to seize the opportunity presented by the all-out expansion of remote workers, many of whom have not been proficiently trained in even the most basic of cyber security measures. Therefore, it is essential that businesses and employees remain vigilant during these challenging times,” said Andy Heather, VP at Centrify. These and many other insights are from data obtained via a poll of 200 senior business decision-makers in large- and medium-sized UK companies conducted by independent polling company Censuswide on behalf of Centrify.

Proactivity is the order of the day.

A recent article by cxotoday.com has been saying something that GTconsult has been promoting for a while now, proactivity is the key to winning the COVID-19 cyber security battle.

The article points out that there is no point in beefing up security for a theft that has already occurred. One may never be able to recover the financial and reputation loss completely, no matter how large their insurance policy is. Simply put, your house will never feel the same. Yes, having a robbery occur will drive you to add more security and prepare for the next attempt but don’t you wish you had taken those steps before your precious and emotionally valuable items were taken?

The key to true security of valuable items is to have your security be prepared PRIOR to the incident. A proactive approach will ensure that your valuables remain safe.

The article adds that we often come across news about hacking and online scams. The frequency of such attacks has only risen during COVID-19 pandemic. In fact, according to a report done by TripWire Inc., 94% of cybersecurity professionals are more concerned about security now than they were prior to COVID-19. Miscreants are leveraging the current crisis to fraudulently direct funds into their accounts or just crash into a system to extract vital data.

The big issue and our passive response.

The article points out that, according to a news report by WHO, a fivefold increase in cyberattacks has been directed at its staff since the start of the pandemic. Due to this, some 450 active email addresses and passwords were leaked online.

Now, as alarming as it must sound to each one of us, given the scale and cybersecurity resources an organization of such magnanimity must have in place, you just can’t afford to relax and miss tracking the key cyber security metrics.

The worst part? Users consider themselves too insignificant a target until they finally fall prey to an attacker. By turning a blind eye towards red flags, we consciously contribute to the issue, resulting in a less secure network for us to work on every single day.

The article adds that, given the media’s attention to larger cyber-attacks, small and medium-sized businesses often do not feel that they are at risk. Truth be told, small and medium sized businesses and organizations are targeted almost as frequently as their larger counterparts.

As per report by Ponemon Institute, 67% of small businesses experienced a cyber-attack while 58% experienced a data breach in the last 12 months. Weak passwords emerged as one of the root causes of the data breach. The average cost of each attack was over USD $380,000. Yet, nearly half of the respondents (47%) had no understanding of how to protect their companies from such threats.

The article points out that, most organizations have firewalls, adware blockers, anti-malware software, password protection and spam filters as their reactive strategy towards digital threats. Though they are excellent at discovering a known malware or virus and can remove it from their system, they often fail to cover the potentially sensitive areas.

For example: reactive security involves signature-based ant viruses that will prevent only the known signatures entering the network whereas proactive security will define policies that will deny everything that is not explicitly allowed. Further, proactive security includes solutions such as endpoint detection and response that use statistical models and artificial intelligence to detect anomalies in the network.

Understanding the new threat-prone environment

The article points out that most companies are working remotely at present. Due to the unforeseen crisis, IT resources have been stretched thin forcing some employees to use personal devices such as laptops, personal computers, and mobile devices to access their official accounts. This has exposed organizations to an enhanced security threat from these endpoints which may or may not have the requisite cybersecurity tools installed, thereby increasing the risk of data theft.

Cyber Security almost works the same way as waterproofing. One can and should mend the walls once the water has seeped in to control further damage to the infrastructure. But isn’t it better to put a system in place that repels water from entering the wall in the first place? Therefore, proactive security is important. Proactive cybersecurity measures could include:

  • Network and endpoint monitoring. Companies must continuously monitor their network, which may not be possible for a human. AI-powered automated programs check the system for irregularities or invasion attempts and prompt the IT teams in real-time to take relevant actions. Technologies such as endpoint detection and response can detect new attacks and attack permutations using machine learning and behavioural analytics. Another problem that organizations face today are unconnected tools and systems, technologies such as security orchestration and response can drastically improve the efficiency of cybersecurity team by automating processes;
  • Think like a hacker. Technically, achieving proactive security measures requires a mindset of a hacker. This approach enables a company to step into the shoes of a hacker for exposing weak links of their systems;
  • Threat hunting. Once cybercriminals break through a company’s maiden defence shields, they can stay undetected for months, moving laterally through the network, exposing valuable data. Threat hunting allows businesses to eliminate or fix the risk zone before it can be misused by a hacker; and
  • Proactive Training of SOC members. Organizations need to be proactive in training their SOC team members as they are the heart of any organization’s defence mechanism. Most of the organizations are still relying on tabletop exercises, presentations, certifications, or tactical SOC exercises. No doubt, these are great ways of imparting the fundamentals of cybersecurity and outlining the steps they may take during a cyberattacks. But what about handling attacks such as ransomware or any security incidents resulting in disruption of business which have been experienced by less than20% of analysts worldwide as per report from ESG? Do you expect your SOC team to counter such nefarious attacks with an effective response? You hope they will succeed but we all know chances are bleak which is why this is not proactive training. The right approach is to turn to immersive training in a virtual environment where cybersecurity analysts can experience real-world environments and real-world attacks such as ransomware, fileless attacks, data exfiltration and many more. This approach will certainly ensure that your SOC team is able to protect their network when time comes.

The article adds that, as technology has advanced, machine learning and artificially intelligent applications have become much more accessible to the open market for both black and white hat hackers. This means that if our systems have evolved at detecting and preventing malware, the cybercriminals too are getting better at breaching security systems.

The article points out that age-old tools and technologies cannot efficiently battle modern threats. Hence, the need for proactive cybersecurity arises that identifies the vulnerabilities using AI and proactively builds systems, processes, and skills before they can be exploited as an entry point by criminals.