RIYADH: The Middle East registered an average total data breach cost of $7.45 million between March 2021 and March 2022, a 7.6 percent increase over $6.93 million booked over the same period in the earlier year, revealed an industry report.

According to IBM Security’s annual Cost of a Data Breach Report, the Middle East ranked second on the list of data breach losses after the US.

The study is based on an in-depth analysis of real-world data breaches experienced by 550 organizations worldwide.

“The consequence of this is that businesses not only need to worry about safeguarding the security and privacy of their data but also ensure they are cyber resilient,” IBM consulting leader for Saudi Arabia, Dina Abo-Onoq, told Arab News.

Business process transformation

Businesses today look different from what they were 10 years ago, with digital operations becoming essential year after year, simplifying the workflow and accelerating the business pace.

However, IT environments have become broader and more complex.

“That complexity creates risks and can introduce various cyber threats,” said Abo-Onoq.

The financial sector was among the most affected sectors by data breaches in the Middle East, followed by health and energy. 

FASTFACTS

• The study is based on an in-depth analysis of real-world data breaches experienced by 550 organizations worldwide.

• The financial sector was among the most affected sectors by data breaches in the Middle East, followed by health and energy.

As a result, organizations are raising their prices to cover the cost of data breaches by nearly 60 percent, making the consumers pay the difference for the goods and services they offer.

“Consumers always carry the burden,” she added.

The US tech multinational IBM has been preparing to combat these losses by offering a zero-trust strategy for its clients that manages the risks, allowing users access to the appropriate resources.

“It’s a model that uses context to securely connect the right users to the right data at the right time and under the right conditions while also protecting your organization from cyberthreats,” she added.

IBM’s Saudi presence

During US President Joe Biden’s recent visit to the Kingdom, IBM revealed that it would train 100,000 young people in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cybersecurity over the next five years.

The tech multinational will work closely with the Saudi Ministry of Communications and Information Technology to establish the Kingdom as an innovation hub in the region.

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

IBM first set foot in the Kingdom in 1947, when it installed the first computer at Saudi Aramco. The company has come a long way since then.

Its existing office in Riyadh not only serves as a sales and marketing facility but also provides technical resources, consultancy services and security expertise.

“We are proud to call ourselves the trusted partner for digital transformation, offering skills to help clients modernize and manage their applications in a hybrid cloud environment,” she explained.

The company also signed a memorandum of understanding with King Saud University last June to provide AI training for its students and to advance their development skills.

“What IBM does is to prepare them for the marketplace. We cannot provide jobs for everyone, but many of them end up working for IBM,” she said.

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