Companies in the Middle East need to brace themselves for a growing number of highly sophisticated cyber attacks, particularly as internet infrastructure in the region catches up to that in other parts of the world.
This is according to security expert and chief technology officer of Resilient Systems Bruce Schneier, who was speaking to Security Kaizen magazine at this week's Gulf Information Security Expo & Conference in Dubai. He noted that the future of cyber attacks will look much like the present, except that the level of sophistication is set to increase hugely.
Overall, Mr Schneier forecast that the threat landscape is set to remain broadly familiar. He observed criminals will continue targeting companies in order to steal personal data and intellectual property, 'hacktivists' will keep up their politically-motivated assaults on enterprises, and governments will continue to spy on each other - and their own citizens - as long as they perceive value in this.
There will also not be a great deal of regional differences in the profile of attacks, so companies in the Middle East can expect to see many of the same threats as organisations in other parts of the world. Therefore, they must improve the quality of their defences to cope with more complex attacks.
Mr Schneier said: "There's a bright future for the security industry in the Middle East, because with the exceptions of the banking and oil sectors, the region has generally not had enough IT security. This is going to change."
The expert stated that there are several key challenges facing today's enterprises when it comes to security, such as government and corporate surveillance, which he noted is "rampant" on the internet.
"Mostly I worry about data: how it is generated, who has access to it, what they can do with it, how they store it, and how they dispose of it," Mr Schneier continued. "Many of the problems on the internet can be traced to all this data."
Strong cryptography tools are a solution that is essential if businesses are to protect their data. The expert highlighted leaks from the Edward Snowden documents that show even the NSA has difficulty breaking encryption for solutions such as PGP. However, he warned businesses they should not view this as a complete solution.
"For example, cryptography can protect against some types of surveillance absolutely. They can protect the contents of emails and messages as they go across the internet," he said. "But they cannot protect the surveillance data that your cell phone constantly generates so that the cell network knows where you are."