Complex Made Simple

Why Middle East businesses don’t know how to handle data

With pressure to ensure consumer data is protected mounting, a study reveals that more than half of the companies surveyed in the Middle East (56%) are unable to analyze all the data they collect and 32% do not know where their sensitive data is stored.

Compounding this uncertainty, 42% of IT professionals in the region admit they don’t carry out all the procedures in line with data protection laws such as GDPR.


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The study by digital security company Gemalto is based on a survey of 1,050 IT decision makers and 10,500 consumers worldwide. The research found that business’ ability to analyze the data they collect varies worldwide with India (55%), Australia (47%) and the Middle East (44%) best at using the data they collect.

In fact, the majority (94%) of the Middle East organizations agreeing that analyzing data effectively gives them a competitive edge in their industry, the findings note.

“If businesses can’t analyze all of the data they collect, they can’t understand the value of it – and that means they won’t know how to apply the appropriate security controls to that data,” says Sébastien Pavie, Regional Director META, Enterprise and Cybersecurity, at Gemalto.

“Whether it’s selling it on the dark web, manipulating it for financial gain or to damage reputations, unsecured data is a goldmine for hackers. You only need to look at the recent hacks on Facebook and, closer to home, on the riding app Careem, to see the damage that can be done. What’s more, data manipulation can take years to discover, and with data informing everything from business strategy to sales and product development, its value and integrity cannot be underestimated.”


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Confidence in securing the breach is low

When it comes to how data is being secured, the study found that 60% of IT professionals in the Middle East say perimeter security is effective at keeping unauthorized users out of their networks.

Even though there is still faith in how they’re securing their networks, one third (24%) of Middle East companies reported that their perimeter security had been breached in the past 12 months.


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Consumers say compliance is critical

According to the study, a growing awareness of data breaches and communications around GDPR have led to the majority (88%) of consumers in the Middle East believing that it is important for organizations to comply with data regulations.