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Sat 2 Jul 2016 10:31 AM

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MidEast firms still open to cyber attacks despite growing threat

New report says 45% of regional respondents say they either don’t have an encryption plan or strategy

MidEast firms still open to cyber attacks despite growing threat

Despite the threat of cyber-attacks and theft of highly sensitive information, many organisations in the Middle East are still leaving their data unencrypted, according to a new report. 

Governments and large organisations in almost every sector in the region have sustained damage from cyber-attacks, with one attack in particular on two Middle Eastern banks resulting in a direct financial loss of $45 million.

According to the latest 2016 Global Encryption Trends Study: Middle East, based on independent research by the Ponemon Institute and sponsored by Thales, 45 percent of respondents said they either don’t have an encryption plan or strategy, or have a limited encryption strategy for certain types of sensitive data, such as credit card accounts.

A large proportion of respondents (75 percent) said they embrace some type of encryption strategy, meaning the use of encryption continues to grow in response to privacy compliance regulations, consumer concerns and cyber-attacks.

The majority of organisations said they plan to transfer sensitive data to the cloud within the next two years, or already do so, indicating an awareness to address the issue.

Philip Schreiber, regional sales director for Thales e-Security MEASA, said: “The proliferation of data that is occurring with increased connectivity, larger numbers of endpoint devices and greater use of the cloud, means we would expect most organisations to have an encryption strategy applied consistently across the entire enterprise, yet results show that just over half do.

"In terms of protecting data, encryption is widely accepted as best practice, yet many firms are still clearly vulnerable and in a position of weakness.”

Dr Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of The Ponemon Institute, added: “The findings of this year’s study demonstrate the importance of both encryption and key management across a wide range of core enterprise applications – from networking, databases and application level encryption to PKI, payments, public and private cloud computing and more.

"We would certainly expect encryption coverage to increase as Middle Eastern organisations understand how important the process has become.”

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