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Cisco Boss: Complex Cyberthreats Are Like ‘Mosquitoes’

Cisco Boss: Complex Cyberthreats Are Like ‘Mosquitoes’

As MENA posts strong growth in bring your own device trends, IT departments must step up real-time security, writes Rabih Dabboussi, Cisco general manager.

Like facing a swarm of mosquitoes, Middle East business leaders are sounding the alarm about increasingly complex cyber security threats.

Mosquitoes come in thousands of species and can attack through a small opening to cause a fatal disease. Similar to mosquitoes evolving against insecticides, cyber security threats are increasingly difficult for businesses to prevent and recover from.

Global cyber attacks against systems, applications, and personal networks have reached their highest level ever, increasing 14 per cent from 2012 to 2013.

Increasingly Complex Cyber Threats

Check work email on your personal phone? Check your banking records online? Participate in an online video call with colleagues to complete a project?

Then you are part of the technological transformation of daily lives and businesses, leveraging the trends of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD), cloud, and collaboration.

In the Middle East and Africa (MEA), smart devices are set to grow from 133 million in 2013 to 598 million in 2018. Companies are enhancing costs by shifting IT infrastructure to the cloud, with the region’s cloud traffic slated to grow at the world’s highest rate, from 17 exabytes in 2012 to 157 exabytes in 2017.

At the same time, these trends are also driving increasingly complex cyber attacks.

Blended cybersecurity threats – combining phishing, malware, and hacking – can remain undetected while stealing data or disrupting critical systems, like a mosquito sucking your blood without you noticing.

As businesses extend networks to partners and rely on ISPs and hosting companies, cyber criminals are launching attacks via internet infrastructure. A company’s website becomes the “patient zero” – the initial case of a syndrome – as both the malware repository and redirector.

Malware is set to feast on mobile apps, which are increasingly impacting every part of our daily lives – but are also putting businesses at risk.

“Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees across the Middle East do not understand the security risks of using personal devices in the workplace”.

Nearly two-thirds (65 per cent) of employees across the Middle East do not understand the security risks of using personal devices in the workplace.

New Kinds of Defense

It can be easy for Chief Information Security Officers (CISOs) to feel overwhelmed by the task of protecting terabytes of information across a more complex and porous network, in the face of shrinking IT budgets and leaner IT teams.

As new kinds of malware evolve as quickly as mosquitoes resist against pesticides, businesses need to deploy new defense techniques based on three key points:

• Visibility across extended networks, with contextual awareness to identify and stop cyber security threats
• Continuous and real-time analysis of threat intelligence across all products, leveraging global threat intelligence, that can stop and minimise threats
• Integrated system of agile and open platforms that cover the network, devices, and cloud, for centralised monitoring and management.

As the UAE continues to drive its technology-driven knowledge-based economy in line with UAE Vision 2021, cyber security cannot be swatted away like a mosquito. It is an epidemic that business leaders must protected against now, before it is too late.

Rabih Dabboussi is general manager of UAE for Cisco.

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