Twenty twenty two was a significantly turbulent year. The geopolitical backdrop was explosive, with a European war happening for the first time in many years. International relationships broke down and global trade was disrupted. With the west tentative about putting boots on the ground in Ukraine, many governments took the democratic route by implementing sanctions and trade embargoes on industries like oil and gas, finance, manufacturing and weaponry. This arguably more surreptitious technique forced nation states and nation-state-backed actors to be more conceited in how they can influence the war itself, causing a broad range of disruptive cyberattacks.
Cyber criminals also doubled-down their efforts, with 2022 being a record year for ransomware and other forms of malware-related attacks. The threat landscape diversified significantly, with drones, 5G and artificial intelligence providing new delivery mechanisms for attacks globally. This technological advancement will likely continue to cause havoc globally for the next few years. In terms of cyberattacks, the Middle East is in an interesting and potentially vulnerable position. Oil-rich and digitising rapidly across a variety of industries, this region will be one of the key targets for nation state attackers, criminals, and cyber activists alike. Government policies in Saudi Arabia like Ambition 2030 and in Qatar post-World Cup, will usher in a new era of early-stage technological innovation across a range of industries such as retail, hospitality, manufacturing and beyond. IT, IoT and OT infrastructure and environments will also continue to blend architecturally, making 2023 a risky year for organisations in the region. One thing that is guaranteed is that the region will experience more cyberattacks. Therefore, management of this key risk is crucial to hitting the ambitious digital targets set by the regions themselves.
Here are five cyber security trends that are set to accelerate for the Middle East in 2023 and beyond.