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Cybersecurity Concerns For Foreign Nationals Working In The Middle East

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Cyber crime is now considered to be a pandemic, with a recent report estimating cyber crime to have cost the world 0.8% of global GDP or $600 billion in 2017. This cost will continue to grow, with experts predicting it will reach close to $6 trillion annually by 2021. These numbers underscore the necessity for robust cybersecurity protection for both public and private organizations throughout the world, particularly in the Middle East where rates of cyber attacks are high. Enterprises that deploy foreign nationals to work in the Middle East face unique challenges. A common quandary faced by these organizations is how to protect sensitive company data and employee personal information while complying with local data protection legislation laws and maintaining operations.


Middle East Cybersecurity Concerns

The Middle East is thought to pose an escalated risk in terms of potential cyber attacks from geopolitical uncertainty and the influx of businesses hosting foreign nationals in the region. Studies by various cybersecurity organizations identify the United Arab Emirates as one of the most highly targeted countries in world for cyber attacks, Saudi Arabia is the country with the highest email spam rate and Oman, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait are among the countries with the highest email malware rates. In 2017, more than 3.6 trillion people within the UAE (approximately half of the population) were affected by cyber attacks. The threats were varied and wide-ranging from ransomware to phishing. The Middle East is particularly prone to cyber attacks due to the following:


  • High number of global foreign nationals living and working in the Middle East, with access to foreign or global networks and data.
  • Failure of some countries in the region, like Saudi Arabia, to upgrade cyber security and related technology to global standards.
  • High density of prosperous companies with large amounts of liquid capital are targets for ransomware.
  • Vulnerabilities posed by the recent expansion of smart city technologies in this region.
  • Proliferation of IoT devices (each of which is an endpoint for a network) for people working in the Middle East.


Effects Of Cyber Crime In The Middle East

Cyber criminals continue to amass knowledge regarding information security vulnerabilities associated with foreign nationals and at the same time the tactics employed to perpetrate attacks in the Middle East continue to grow and evolve in sophistication. Cyber crime can result in interruptions in daily operations as well as significant losses in both revenue and reputation for a business. On a broader perspective, widespread cyber crime can impact the entire digital landscape, fueling a general sense of unease and distrust on the part of consumers and a reluctance to conduct business online.


Cyber Security Solutions For GCC States

In recent years, the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states have developed legislative measures aimed at preventing cyber crime and have invested heavily in cybersecurity. Unfortunately, there is no common legal approach across the region, and cyber crime appears to be evolving at a faster rate than information security solutions are being implemented. Differences in the substance and implementation of cyber crime laws among GCC members pose issues for global policy coordination. In addition, some policies and laws are rendered ineffective if the states are not able to keep them updated according to the pace that new technologies are developed and new solutions put into place.

While the GCC states wrestle with developing and implementing comprehensive and effective cybersecurity policies, foreign nationals take matters into their own hands by protecting their endpoints. Any IoT device, mobile phone or laptop connected to an enterprise network should be locked down. Attila’s GoSilent technology utilizes an IPSec tunnel with Top Secret level security, data traffic filtering and captive portal isolation to secure the connection between the enterprise network behind the firewall. This allows foreign nationals to both receive and send information behind the protected firewall without cyber criminals hijacking or intercepting the connection. Learn more about Attila’s portable, next-generation enterprise security solutions.