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RIYADH: Ahead of the Global Cybersecurity Forum to be held in Riyadh, Cisco unveiled the results of its recent consumer security survey in Saudi Arabia which shows that 73% of Saudis are concerned about their connected devices being hacked or attacked.

The study shows that 54% of respondents said corporate cybercrime made them think their personal data was more at risk today than 12 months ago.

“There is an exponential increase in cyberattacks, some researchers estimate that every 39 seconds a cyberattack occurs somewhere in the world,” Fady Younes, director of cybersecurity at Cisco, told Arab News.

All technology is exposed to risk. Risk that the device becomes inoperable or lost, risk that there are vulnerabilities in the software, risk that attackers exploit these vulnerabilities to attack the device or our data. As our reliance on technology increases, our exposure to risk also increases.

Fady Younes, Director of Cybersecurity at Cisco

According to the study, 69% of users based in Saudi Arabia primarily use their home phone for work-related tasks and 61% have used unsecured public networks for basic work-related tasks.

The survey consisted of responses from over 8,000 consumers from eight countries in Europe, the Middle East and Africa, of which 1,006 general consumers were surveyed in Saudi Arabia in August 2022.

Only 35% of the Kingdom study group have never discussed work tasks on their personal device or worked on a work document.

“All technology is exposed to risks. Risk that the device becomes inoperable or lost, risk that there are vulnerabilities in the software, risk that attackers exploit these vulnerabilities to attack the device or our data. As our reliance on technology increases, so does our exposure to risk,” Younes said.

Under the theme “Rethinking the Global Cyberorder”, the GCF will bring together international policymakers and experts to inspire new perspectives, approaches and actions, while charting the way forward for the most vulnerable people in cyberspace.

The forum, founded by the National Cybersecurity Authority of Saudi Arabia, returns for its 2022 edition on November 9 and brings together industry experts to advance the global cybersecurity agenda.

The MFA Factor

According to Cisco, usernames and passwords have never been a particularly effective technique for warding off cyber threats, adding multi-factor authentication, or MFA, to accounts is a valid method to add a layer strong additional protection to system access.

MFA is an authentication method that requires the user to provide at least two verification factors to access a resource such as an app, online account, or virtual private network.

Rather than simply asking for a username and password, MFA requires one or more additional verification factors, which reduces the likelihood of a successful cyberattack, according to Onelogin, an online identity solutions provider. and access management.

However, around 29% of people in the Kingdom do not use or know what MFA is, according to Cisco’s report.

“As nearly all smartphones now feature a fingerprint or face scanner, consumers are opting to use biometrics instead of passcodes to unlock and log into apps on their personal devices,” the report said. .

“This trend will continue as technology becomes increasingly vital to our daily lives. Few of us could manage our current lives without a smartphone, for example,” Younes added.

Data Breaches

According to a study published in August by the American technology giant IBM, the Middle East ranks second on the list of data losses after the United States.

The report showed that the Middle East recorded an average total data breach cost of $7.45 million between March 2021 and March 2022, an increase of 7.6% from $6.93 million. recorded during the same period of the previous year.

“The implication of this is that companies not only have to worry about the security and privacy of their data, but also ensure that they are cyber-resilient,” said Dina Abo-Onoq, IBM consulting lead. for Saudi Arabia, to Arab News.

The consequence of this is that companies must not only worry about protecting the security and privacy of their data, but also ensuring that they are cyber-resilient.

Dina Abo-Onoq, IBM Consulting Leader for Saudi Arabia

She further added that the financial sector was among the sectors most affected by data breaches in the Middle East, followed by healthcare and energy.

According to Younes, organizations need to have robust processes in place not only to prevent attacks, but also to know exactly what actions they should take when they discover and need to mitigate an attack.

“Investing in cyber protection also helps make systems more resilient in the event of natural disasters or accidental damage to systems or data,” he added.

Economic burden

Younes believes criminals have developed and refined business models to make money by attacking systems.

This crime-related loss represents an economic burden, as organizations must spend money to recover from breaches and must invest to prevent attacks from succeeding.

“This cost can also be perceived as a burden since it is money that is not invested,” he added.

According to IBM’s report, organizations are raising their prices to cover the cost of data breaches by nearly 60%, forcing consumers to pay the difference for the goods and services they offer.

“Consumers still carry the burden,” Abo-Onoq said.

In October 2017, Saudi Arabia launched the NCA to protect public and private entities against cyber threats.

One of the main priorities of the NCA is to train and hire national executives by establishing partnerships with global entities.

In July 2022, IBM revealed that it would train 100,000 young people in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity over the next five years.

“We are committed to holding 100 workshops over the next five years with government agencies,” Abo-Onoq added.

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