‘Almost half of IT decision makers in the Middle East believe cybersecurity is still not a top priority’


Almost half of the IT decision makers (ITDMs) at 250+ employee organizations in the Middle East believe that cybersecurity is still not a significant priority for board members despite high profile cyberattacks continuing to occur according to findings of Fortinet’s latest Global Enterprise Security Survey. The research also highlights that many IT professionals believe that the transition to the cloud as part of their organizations’ digital transformation will in turn make security a growing priority.

“Over the years, we’ve seen that cybersecurity has become a key investment for organizations, with more and more C-level executives considering it as part of their broader IT strategy,” says Alain Penel, Regional Vice President – Middle East at Fortinet. “As organizations now embrace digital transformation and turn to technologies like the cloud, cybersecurity is no longer just an IT investment but a strategic business decision. In today’s digital economy, I expect the trend we’ve seen at the board level to accelerate with security being treated as a top priority within an organizations’ broader risk management strategy. By doing so, companies will be in a better position to succeed in their digital transformation efforts.”

Research shows that board members are not treating cyber security as a top priority. 47% of IT decision makers believe that IT security is still not a top priority discussion for the board. This doesn’t seem to affect budgets since 54% of enterprises stated that they spend over 10% of their IT budget on security, which is a high investment. 69% of the surveyed respondents said their IT security budget has increased from the previous year. Now, IT decision makers feel strongly that cybersecurity should become a top management priority with 87% of the respondents saying that the board should actually put IT security under greater scrutiny.

There are three key drivers for cybersecurity becoming a top priority.

The increase in security breaches and global cyberattacks. In the last two years, 89% of businesses have experienced a security breach, with one of the most common vector of attack being email and identity fraud for 50% of respondents. 52% of ITDMs said there has been an increased focus on IT security following global cyberattacks, such as WannaCry. The scale and profile of global cyberattacks is bringing security to the attention of the board. Security is no longer just an IT department discussion.

Another important driver of board awareness is the proliferation of regulation, 38% of respondents reported. With major fines threatening the bottom line, such as the impending GDPR compliance for European data, the board now has a mandate to take interest.

The transition to the cloud has become a catalyst for security priorities. As organizations look at migrating to the cloud as part of their digital transformation, 73% of IT security decision makers believe that cloud security is becoming a growing priority. 75% of the respondents also affirm that cloud security - along with the investment in security to support it – is becoming a key priority for the board. As a result, 40% of those surveyed are planning investment in cloud security in the next 12 months.