More Saudi CEOs perceive cybersecurity risk as the greatest to their organisations’ growth than in the past, based on the latest Saudi Arabia CEO Outlook report published by KPMG. In 2018 cybersecurity ranked sixth among the greatest organisational threats, the report said.
The report found that 20 percent of CEOs in the Kingdom perceive cybersecurity risk to be the greatest threat, compared to only 4 percent in the previous year.
In the last few years, CEOs in the Kingdom have increasingly adopted digital technologies to upgrade their business operations, realise higher growth potential and align their organisations with digitalisation objectives under Vision 2030.
Companies in the Middle East have suffered large financial losses as a result of cyberattacks than the rest of the world. Nearly 56 percent of them have lost more than $500,000 — higher than the global average. It seems that the Kingdom is the most vulnerable to cyberattacks in the Middle East, with more than 160,000 attacks targeting servers every day. Cybercrime has led to heavy financial losses across companies in the Kingdom.
In 2019, only 2 percent of the CEOs globally and in the Kingdom strongly anticipated a security breach in the near future. However, the numbers have jumped to 10 percent and 14 percent respectively, the report noted.
Ton Diemont, Head of Cybersecurity, KPMG in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, said in a statement, “Global CEOs have had a longer exposure to cyber threats and thus to adapt to new technologies to combat these. But they are still concerned about becoming a victim of cyber-attacks. This leaves CEOs in Saudi Arabia with an important lesson to not ignore these threats as something less important and continuously invest in upgrading their control systems.”
Universities in the Kingdom have developed exclusive security tracks to fight cyberattacks at a national level. It is important for CEOs to embed cybersecurity into their overall change programme by instituting robust cybersecurity strategies, operational frameworks and data security measures. This in turn will help organisations to boost protection of networks, IT systems, infrastructure and data.
“CEOs in Saudi Arabia are enhancing their cybersecurity systems by upskilling cyber and data specialists, partnering with technology companies and leveraging defensive cyber security software. As a result, the CEOs are exhibiting higher confidence in their cybersecurity capabilities as compared to last year,” Diemont said.
Interestingly, six out of 10 CEOs in the Kingdom feel they are now prepared for a cyberattack in the future, as opposed to the remaining four CEOs in the previous report.
Nearly 60 percent of CEOs in the Kingdom view information security as a potential source of competitive advantage and critical to increase trust among stakeholders. While 54 percent of them believe a robust cyber strategy is critical to establishing trust with key stakeholders, 64 percent perceive customer data perception to be critical to organisational growth.
“Growing digital connectedness and a wider range of customer interaction through mobile interfaces, coupled with stricter security regulations, have also made protecting customer data more crucial. Consequently, companies are increasingly focusing on protecting customer data, not just to comply with regulations but also to have a strategic advantage over their competitors,” Diemont concluded.