To thwart rising cyberattacks in the Middle East, India’s Tata Communications has opened a cybersecurity response centre in Dubai to help customers stay ahead of evolving cyber threats. It is the network provider’s fourth dedicated security centre after Chennai, Pune and Singapore.

A recent Booz Allen Hamilton survey reported that an estimated 41 per cent of Gulf-based enterprises experienced cyber-attacks in the previous 12 months, a 46 per cent increase from 2016 numbers. Severe attacks are also occurring with increased frequency as hackers find new ways to breach complex firewalls and security systems. This is despite ongoing government and private sector efforts to accelerate the development of cybersecurity capabilities.

Threats to industrial control systems are of growing concern in the region after reports in March suggested hackers nearly triggered an explosion at a petrochemical plant in Saudi Arabia last year. The threat of ransomware is also growing with the UAE alone losing an estimated $1.1 billion (Dh4.04 billion) to cybercrime activities in 2017, a significant portion being losses due to ransomware attacks.

Radwan Moussalli, senior vice-president at Tata Communications for Middle East, Central Asia and Africa, said the adoption of connected digital technologies and apps by consumers, enterprises, and governments is growing at a rapid pace in the Middle East. Therefore, the Dubai Cyber Security Strategy was launched with the aim to provide the UAE with the right tools and services to make it a leading region in terms of cyber security.

“Our cyber security response center is an effort in the direction to help governments and large organisations in various vital sectors of the region in handling and mitigating threats,” he said.

Benoy C.S., director and business head for digital transformation practice at Frost & Sullivan, said regional governments have been investing significantly on cyber-security and so are major companies across oil and gas, energy, banking and IT sectors.

He said customer awareness has increased multi-fold and enterprises have realised they need a global provider with the ability to assess security risk, leverage advanced security tools and techniques, and help in building a proactive security framework.