The Impact of Cyber Crime on the Middle East Economy

At the present time, the Middle East is in the midst of a new golden age in terms of technology. The region has been harnessing the full value of technology to benefit communities, industries, and economies alike. Over the last decade, the region has been focusing on existing and emerging technologies such as AI and RPA to enable digital transformation and create new revenue opportunities. At present, many countries worldwide recognize the potential of applying ICT to improve economic conditions and the Middle Eastern countries are not lagging behind in this feat.

Kuwait, for instance, has developed national-level policies for e-health and e-government, taking the first step in the direction of a digital economy. Saudi Arabia received recognition from the World Bank for its efforts in executing business reforms, such as electronic filing and new payment systems. However, as the Middle East region is rapidly embracing technologies in order to improve its economic conditions, cyber crime has increased drastically and is expected to continue to rise in the foreseeable future.

Analysis of the Status Quo of Cyber Crime

According to Seema Bono, an advisor on high-profile investigations arising from accounting issues and cyber issues, “Managing cyber-crime risk and digital protection will remain firm priorities for businesses in 2021 in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, particularly as the digital footprint of businesses increases.” She further added, “The current climate is one which plays aptly into the hands of attackers engaged in online scams, phishing, and hacking aimed at undermining and disrupting business and economies.”

The main problem with cyber crime these days is that it has become extremely easy and common. Though it might sound unbelievable, the truth is that literally anyone can watch a few tutorials on YouTube, download some easily available hacking software and start hacking- yes, that’s how easy it is today. Time-consuming? Yes. Need efforts? Very much. But absolutely doable. Consequently, the number of cyber criminals has increased dramatically, resulting in a steep rise in cyber crimes worldwide including in the Middle East region.

“Cyber-crime is increasing bacterially in the Middle East,” says Prof.Khaled El-Ayat, a Computer Engineering professor at the AUC.

According to a report from IBM, the Middle East experiences one of the highest data breach costs in the world, at $6.52 million on average.

Cyber crime costs the region millions of dollars every year. With such a steep cost to the economy, it is evident how cyber crime is affecting the Middle East more than any other problems the region is currently facing. Since the value of everything can be determined by its financial costs, it’s crucial to determine how cyber crime is devastating the growth in the economy of the Middle East region.

As per the stats, the average organizational cost of a data breach in the Middle East is $5.97 million.

Resolving the Issue

Currently, the Middle East is spending enormous amounts of money on preventing cyber crimes. And since organizations play a vital role in boosting the economy of any region, it is crucial that every organization in the Middle East implement strict security protocols. This will not only help the organizations adopt new technologies but also avoid the cyber threats hampering the economic growth. However, when it comes to securing the organization against cyber attacks, most organizations typically invest a lot in reinforcing their IT infrastructure but neglect another massive issue- the Insider Threat: the Biggest contributor to cyber attacks.

According to a report by IBM Security, human error is the main cause of 24% of all data breaches.

Humans are considered the weakest link in the security chain and the most vulnerable to cyber attacks. But with practice and training, even the weakest link can be turned into the strongest defense. In short, organizations need to start providing the right cyber security awareness training for employees. Implementing tools like ThreatCop can offer the most effective way of generating cyber security awareness amongst employees. The tool simulates dummy cyber attacks to provide the employees with real-life experience in facing various cyber threats. In addition, the tool allows you to customize the training based on the industry and types of attack vectors the organization is likely to face.

To align the cyber security requirements, organizations will also have to focus on implementing the best cyber security practices. Here are some of the most effective cyber security measures to go along with educating the employees:

It is about time for organizations to realize the significance of cyber aware employees in the fight against cyber crime. Companies of all sizes and verticals should implement the best cyber security practices without any further delay.

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