Companies in the Middle East need to be making greater efforts to ensure their IT networks are protected against the growing threat of cyber crime, as hacking attacks become more common in the region.
It was noted by Global Risk Insights that several studies have highlighted the growth in the number of incidents, particularly in the Gulf states where the majority of the region's economic activity is concentrated.
Energy companies are especially at risk, with the publication pointing out security firm Symantec has warned of a new information stealer called 'Trojan.Laziok', which has been targeting petroleum, gas, and helium industries in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Qatar.
Elsewhere, 2015 has also seen the emergence of the first high-profile Arabic-speaking cyber criminal organisation, known as the Desert Falcons. Since first appearing in April, the group is alleged to have been behind attacks on more than 3,000 top companies and individuals in 50 countries around the world, with over one million records stolen.
It is also not only criminal gangs that are targeting the region. Global Risk Insights observed that Sunni nations such as Saudi Arabia have expressed concerns over Iran's ability to launch cyber attacks in the region, as part of efforts to undermine the Gulf's dominance of the oil market.
As a result of such threats, more businesses can expect to be targeted in the coming years. However, many companies are still not fully equipped to deal with these issues.
According to research by Symantec and Deloitte, more than two-thirds of organisations in the Middle East lack the capabilities to protect themselves from sophisticated attacks, while 70 per cent of regional IT decision-makers say they lack complete confidence in their company's cybersecurity policies.
Therefore, businesses need to place a stronger focus on upgrading their solutions and invest in research and development to ensure they can keep pace with the hackers.
Mike McConnell, senior executive at Booz Allen Hamilton, stated: "It is imperative that IT leadership lead a fundamental shift to embedded security, with cyber defence a driver of product and systems development, rather than an afterthought. This shift is particularly important as the internet of everything expands the avenue of attack."