Saudi CIOs consider security their toughest tech challenge

More than half of Saudi CIOs see managing security as their biggest continuing technology-related challenge, and place cybersecurity investment as their topmost business objective.

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Saudi Arabia continues to be a popular target for cybercriminals, in part due to its oil resources but also because of its location in a region rife with geopolitical tensions. According to IDC's most recent CIO Survey conducted in Saudi Arabia, 60 percent of Saudi CIOs see managing security as their biggest ongoing technology challenge.

This view is expected to impact the cybersecurity spending decisions of almost half (46 percent) of Saudi CIOs, according to the poll, and 75 percent of those questioned have gone so far as to place investments in privacy and cybersecurity as their topmost business objective, particularly as part of their digital transformation agendas.

"Cybersecurity readiness has become one of the major performance indicators of transformation initiatives across the Kingdom," says Uzair Mujtaba, programme manager for IT Services at IDC. "Saudi Arabia has taken major steps in mitigating future exposure to cyberthreats, and 85 percent of CIOs think that investments in cybersecurity and privacy technologies will be critical to driving digital transformation initiatives in their organisation."

And they are right to be concerned. The average data breach in Saudi Arabia now costs companies US$6.52 million, a 9.4 percent increase from 2019, according to a report commissioned by IBM Security.

The country invested heavily in cybersecurity after a well-known cyberattack against Saudi Aramco in 2012 from malware dubbed Shamoon, which disrupted oil production and made 30,000 workstations unusable.

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