Saudis are increasingly worried about their devices being hacked: Cisco


RIYADH: Ahead of the Global Cybersecurity Forum that will be held in Riyadh, Cisco has revealed the results of its recent consumers’ security survey in Saudi Arabia which shows that 73 percent of Saudis are worried about their connected devices being hacked or attacked.

The study shows that 54 percent said corporate cybercrime has made them think their personal data is more at risk now than 12 months ago.

“There is an exponential rise in cyberattacks, some researchers estimate that every 39 seconds there is a cyberattack taking place somewhere around the globe,” Fady Younes, cybersecurity director at Cisco, told Arab News.

Any technology is exposed to risk. Risk that the device will become inoperable or lost, risk that there are vulnerabilities in the software, risk that attackers will exploit these vulnerabilities to attack the device or our data. As our reliance on technology increases, so does our exposure to risk.

Fady Younes, Cybersecurity director at Cisco

According to the study, 69 percent of Saudi-based users primarily use their personal phone for work tasks and 61 percent have used unsecured public networks for basic work tasks.

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

Only 35 percent of the study group in the Kingdom have never chatted about work tasks on their personal device or worked on a business document.

“Any technology is exposed to risk. Risk that the device will become inoperable or lost, risk that there are vulnerabilities in the software, risk that attackers will 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 Cyber Order,” GCF will bring together international decision makers and experts to inspire new perspectives, approaches, and action, whilst charting a path forward for those most vulnerable in cyberspace.

The forum, founded by Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority, is returning for its 2022 edition on November 9, and is bringing together the industry’s experts to advance the global cybersecurity agenda.

The MFA factor

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

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

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

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

“As nearly every smartphone now has a fingerprint or facial scanner, consumers are choosing to use biometrics instead of passcodes to unlock and log in to applications on their personal devices,” the report stated.

“This trend will continue, as technology is increasingly becoming 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 issued in August by the US-tech giants IBM, the Middle East ranked second on the list of data breach losses after the US.

The report showed that 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.

“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.

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.

Dina Abo-Onoq, IBM consulting leader for Saudi Arabia

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

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

“Investment in cyber protection is also helping make systems more resilient in case of natural disaster or accidental damage to systems or data,” he added.

Economic burden

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

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

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

Based on IBM’s report, 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,” Abo-Onoq said.

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

One of NCA’s top priorities is to train and hire national cadres by building 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 the government agencies,” Abo-Onoq added.



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