Around the world 36,000 viruses are created every day, threatening both personal and corporate technology systems worldwide. Add that to a jump in cyber crimes in the UAE and it's not surprising that internet security is a big topic at this year's Gitex.
Recent figures released by the government reveal a frightening reality. The UAE is ranked 36th in terms of cyber crime activity globally and around 76 per cent of residents have been a victim of cyber crime, be it online scamming, phishing or data theft. The number of infected computers across the Middle East also increased by 44 per cent between 2009 and 2010. And with the increased use of the internet on phones, these cyber crimes have a whole new playground.
As a result there has been a clamour for security related products covering everything from computer security, anti-virus programmes, data theft in case of stolen laptops and mobile blacklisting of numbers and contacts. The UAE government alone spent $600 million last year to combat this encroaching threat.
As security evolves and expands at lightning speed, so do the new platforms and outlets where security is needed. Cloud computing, another hot topic at Gitex this year, also brings about a whole new set of problems in the cyber crime world. Companies offering security solutions need to evolve their products as fast the technology they are protecting. Walking around the exhibition, you'll find exhibits which offer security solutions keeping busy from all the inquiries.
Symantec is one stand that is proving popular. Rami Dawoodi, country sales manager at Isit Store and secure, a partner of Symantec, says that security solutions are the most important solutions in the Middle East, especially after the downturn. Companies are now scrambling to secure their data and networks. This is reflected in government expenditure. Last year, only 20 per cent of the government budget was set aside for security solutions. Today it is more than 35 per cent.
Quick Heal, which focuses mainly on the consumer side, is offering a whole range of products that protect across different platforms such as an anti-virus that can protect both the laptop and computer, laptop trackers that can track down stolen laptops, mobile security options that remotely wipe phones clean of contacts and information in case of theft.
Shobhit Mathur, director of sales and operation, explains that this increase in demand for security related products is a natural trend as internet penetration increases in the region.
"The UAE is a rich country where per capita income is high so people don't mind investing in the security. Business is growing here," he explains.
The organisers are also keen to highlight this worrying trend. For the first time, Gitex will be hammering these scary statistics into attendees in five days of talks and discussions dedicated solely to the issue of cyber security.
While Gitex showcases the best of innovation and technology aimed at improving our ease of doing business and standard of living immensely, the other side of the double-edged sword is seen in the busy exhibits selling products that offer protection against the increasingly multifaceted dangers of cyber crime.