October 6, 2019

Why Don't More Middle Eastern Organizations Use Behavioral Analytics?

Mahmoud Samy

Recently, our team conducted regional research among IT and security leaders in the Middle East to better understand their thoughts on cyber security risks and how to best prevent breaches. While we uncovered a lot of interesting data, the most surprising thing to me was that nearly 90 per cent of respondents said behavior analytics is crucial in preventing breaches; however, more than half said they aren’t using it. 

At Forcepoint, we have long realized that we must do more to understand human behavior and the intersection between humans and data to stay secure, so I am thrilled to see that a strong majority of those surveyed agree with us here. But why aren’t they doing more to analyze behavior?

With behavioral analytics, security teams can proactively monitor for high risk behavior inside the organization. Our security analytics platform provides even deeper context by fusing structured and unstructured data to identify and disrupt malicious, compromised, and negligent users. You can uncover critical problems such as compromised accounts, corporate espionage, intellectual property theft, and fraud.

I believe there is a maturity curve in the Middle East – we are innovating at speeds far too quickly to stay secure. It’s no secret that, over the last few years, there have been monumental advancements across the region in terms of population growth, business growth, smart cities development and digital transformation adoptions to name but a few. Businesses have the data and the tools, but they do not have the solutions needed to develop insights and create context to build solid cyber security measures.

Teams need to work together across functions to gain visibility into employee activities, behaviors, and relationships by integrating unstructured, context-rich data streams with structured data. However, any data gathered on behavior must be done appropriately, thoughtfully and transparently: there is a fine line between surveillance and behavior-based analytics. When considering behavorial analytics as a way to innovate in security, engagement with employees and a strong partnership between human resources, legal and technology departments are all critical. The time is now for our security solutions to match this speed of innovation.

I was also surprised by the following insight from our Middle East survey:

  • 75 per cent of those surveyed said they are always able to recognize when an identity has been compromised on the network. This is contrasting recently released data from Verizon, which says 56 per cent of breaches take months or longer to discover. This leads me to think: do we have a false sense of security about security?
  • Only 15 per cent were concerned about GDPR and other regulations. As countries in other regions work to protect their citizens, it’s only a matter of time before regulatory measures are introduced in the Middle East. If organizations were smart, they would start taking this very seriously.
  • 40 per cent identified digital transformation as a crucial cyber security risk. Just about all our customers across the Middle East have or are implementing digital transformation strategies, so it’s safe to say we are very nearly at the height of digital transformation adoption. At this stage, it concerns me that digital transformation is still a work in progress when it comes to cybersecurity. This has and will continue to be a key focus area for us as we work to counsel organizations.

The data from our survey demonstrates how Forcepoint’s human-centric approach to cybersecurity is so critical to organizations today. We believe that behavioral analytics is vital in stopping cyber threats and we need to do more to ensure organizations are fully equipped. In today’s evolving cybersecurity landscape, Forcepoint’s solutions offer true risk-adaptive protection which understands people and their behavior.

Mahmoud Samy

Mahmoud Samy

Mahmoud Samy  is Vice President of the EMEA Emerging Markets, and he is also the regional director of the Forcepoint UAE operations. Mahmoud Samy is a seasoned and transformative global executive, and he has significant experience in building and leading high-performance cultures and world-class...

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About Forcepoint

Forcepoint is the leading user and data protection cybersecurity company, entrusted to safeguard organizations while driving digital transformation and growth. Our solutions adapt in real-time to how people interact with data, providing secure access while enabling employees to create value.