DUBAI: Spend on information security in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) is forecast to reach $1 billion this year, up 8 per cent compared to 2013, according to Gartner, an information technology research and advisory firm.

“In terms of overall spending, we’re looking at just under $1.2 billion [Dh4.4 billion] in the next few years,” said Eric Paulak, managing vice-president of infrastructure protection at Gartner, an information technology research and advisory firm. He was speaking at the Gartner Security and Risk Management Summit in Dubai on Monday.

“Financial services, oil and gas, governments — they’re the ones that are buying most of what’s out there in the marketplace,” he added.

Network security equipment and security services are expected to account for 75 per cent of enterprise spend this year, and this trend is expected to continue through 2018. Managed security services make up 16 per cent of all security services spending in Mena, compared to 35 per cent globally. “The vast majority of money that is being spent on security in the region is on very traditional equipment — lots of firewalls, intrusion prevention,” Paulak said.

Organisations in the region spend around 10-12 per cent of their total IT budget on security, compared to 6 per cent globally.

Regulatory compliance has helped drive spend on security globally in the last three years, according to Gartner.

The increasing usage of mobile, cloud, social and information will drive the use of new security technology and services through 2016, Gartner said. By 2020, 60 per cent of digital businesses are likely to have major service failures as a result of the inability of IT security teams to manage digital risk.

In the region, cyber attacks have mainly targeted the banking and oil and gas sectors.

“There have been a lot of attacks here,” Paulak said. For instance, Saudi Arabia, which is one of the countries in the region that have been attacked by cyber criminals, is “investing a lot in just being able to make the internet work because of the attacks that are out there,” he said. In 2012, hackers damaged around 30,000 computers at Saudi Aramco, Saudi Arabia’s national oil company.

In the UAE, cyber attacks have mostly targeted the banking sector, including ATM and Internet banking applications, according a report published in the January issue of 999 Magazine, the official English monthly of the Ministry of Interior, last year.

The banking sector topped the list with 35 per cent share of attacks, while 65 per cent were launched against the government’s e-services, telecommunication systems, and educational institutions’ systems.