Industrial companies - especially in the energy, manufacturing, utilities and transportation - in the Middle East are facing risk of cyber attacks, thus calling for an incremental approach that focuses on high-impact, low-cost initial steps, while providing the foundation for a long-term strategy, according to Booz Allen Hamilton report.
In a 2015 survey of 314 organisations operating ICS (industrial control systems) around the world, 20% of whom are based in the Middle East, over 100 respondents indicated that their control systems were breached more than twice in the last 12 months, the report said.
Cyber attacks against oil and gas firms in the Middle East made up more than 50% of registered occurrences in the region, according to Repository of Industrial Security Incidents data. Conversely, in the US and other Western countries, they account for fewer than 30% of recorded instances.
Industrial sectors such as energy, manufacturing, utilities and transportation are amongst the most at risk. The ICS Cyber Emergency Response Team has reported more than 800 cyber security incidents globally since 2011, with most occurring in the energy sector.
“The path to success lies in ensuring a comprehensive approach that enables stakeholders to collaborate in addressing shared, multidimensional cyber issues,” said Dr Mahir Nayfeh, senior vice-president at Booz Allen Hamilton.
Mitigating risk requires more than just tuning firewalls and applying patches; it also involves investing in human capital, and training on policies and procedures, he said, adding all facets of the cyber domain must be considered: Technology and standards, policy and governance, leadership and culture, planning and operations, and management and budgeting.
The report recommends an incremental approach that focuses on high-impact, low-cost initial steps, while providing the foundation for a long-term strategy.
"The GCC leaders who successfully collaborate with relevant key stakeholders to create an integrated vision for cyberspace will help to ensure continued economic growth in the region, and will establish a global standard for other developing regions to emulate,” according to Nayfeh.