My reflections from GISEC 2023 and the cybersecurity challenges we are faced with in the Middle East region.

By Suraj Balachandran
March 29, 2023
My reflections from GISEC 2023 (1)

According to a new report from analyst firm Frost and Sullivan, the Middle East’s cybersecurity market is expected to reach $31 billion by the year 2030, up from $7.5 billion in 2022. This exponential growth is a clear reflection of the state of the market and the level of priority that enterprises are giving to cybersecurity in addressing the increased risks they face.

With the uptick in digital transformation and AI-powered automation projects, cybersecurity will gain even more prominence. While such transformations are necessary to retain a competitive edge and are good for businesses, there are areas that need improvement to ensure a holistic approach.

Sectrio was among the handful of OT security vendors at the GISEC event. This meant that we were able to participate in many discussions with businesses on embracing a robust ICS/OT security framework that secures operational assets from all types of sophisticated attacks. Regional businesses are now looking at OT security from a fresh perspective, decoupling it from traditional IT security, and the age-old approach of meeting the bare minimum compliance mandates to avoid fines or regulatory penalties. Many are waking up to OT threats and in the process of setting up a specific OT-security roadmap with clear milestones.

As some of you may already be aware, the OT threat environment in the region is deteriorating rapidly due to the emergence of new advanced persistent threat actors, cybercriminals, a growing volume of targeted attacks, and increasing sophistication of cyber-attacks. It will only be a matter of time before such attacks breach the kinetic threshold and take shape of large-scale attacks causing unacceptable losses. APT actors and new hacker groups using easy-to-obtain malware such as Lockbit 3.0 are redefining the threat landscape and underscoring the need for improving cyber hygiene and expanding the scope of investments in cybersecurity.

While at the event, I met with many OT security leaders from the region and multiple industry verticals. They were all nearly unanimous when it came to their outlook for the region, cyber threats faced, and what businesses need to focus on to improve their security posture and ensure risk-free operations. I am sharing a few of those insights here; please feel free to reach out to me in case you wish to have a deeper conversation on any of these areas or wish to learn more.

  • Improved operational transparency, network visibility, and control is a clear priority  
  • Ensuring standardization of security approaches across locations and facilities and sanitization of supply chains and partner ecosystems
  • Better consumption of cyber threat intelligence to ensure improved detection of emerging regional and local threats
  • Compliance with various security standards like IEC 62443 SL2 and SL3
  • Elevate security as an institutional priority and communicate with all stakeholders to keep them informed about your security measures
  • Keep track of breaches impacting competition as that will provide an incentive to employees to be always on their guard
  • Consider security as a future-proof investment rather than a deterrence

At the end of three packed days at GISEC, I am certain of a few things:

  1. Enterprises are fully aware of the cyber risks they face
  2. They understand that, unlike IT, an OT attack could put production lines, and even human life, at risk, and
  3. Cybersecurity practitioners have a clear intent to secure themselves.

They are looking up to specialists like Sectrio to step up and work with them to secure their OT networks so that they can continue on their digital transformation journeys. And guess what? We are ready to take on this challenge.

Wish to connect with us? Sign up here: request a demo and check out our solution in action today.

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