Posted on May 22, 2016

Middle East companies, already leading the world in the use of managed security services, or MSS, to protect networks from cyber threats, are poised for the next step in the evolution of cybersecurity: proactive threat-hunting, in which cyber defenders seek to stop threats before they do damage.

A Raytheon Company-sponsored (NYSE: RTN) survey, unveiled at the Kingdom Cyber Security Forum in Riyadh on May 22-23, revealed that companies in the Middle East are ahead of other regions in employing cyber defense measures through using external security service providers. The global survey, titled Don’t Wait: The Evolution of Proactive Threat Hunting, reveals leading-edge trends in the evolution of managed security services from reactive to proactive.

Sixty percent of companies interviewed in the region, including Qatar, the United Arab Emirates, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia , Kuwait and Oman, plan to use MSS in the next year – more than their counterparts in North America, Europe or the Asia Pacific region. Middle East organizations use managed security service providers at a higher rate than in other parts of the world, with 57 percent of the region’s organizations already using MSS providers, a much higher rate than in Europe and Asia Pacific.

While adoption rates are high, many of the MSS services used in the region need to be supplemented with newer approaches. MSS has traditionally been reactive: anti-virus, firewalls, intrusion detection and sandbox technologies. Today, proactive hunting can effectively find sophisticated and damaging threats. “The information and communications technology industry is experiencing a clear global shift from reactive to proactive strategies to safeguard and minimize the impact of cyber threats,” said Dave Amsler, president of Raytheon Foreground Security, who delivered a keynote speech at the Kingdom Forum.

Other key findings of the survey:

  • Sixty-five percent of Middle East information security officials believe that MSS is essential to a sound information security strategy and strongly view it as a strategic priority to alleviate cyber threats
  • A key challenge for Middle Eastern companies is the difficulty of finding MSSPs that support and integrate with the company’s systems and requirements
  • A majority of executives in the Middle East (55 percent) believe that the MSS concerns are shifting from information technology to the line of business, realizing the substantial impact of effective MSSP across all business functions.

Commissioned by Raytheon and conducted by the Ponemon Institute, the survey covered 19 countries across North America, Europe, Middle East and Asia, and gauged the perspectives of 1,784 CISOs and information security leaders through essential insights into current MSS offerings, barriers to adoption and future plans. “The survey sheds light on the value of proactive threat hunting, with results clearly demonstrating a commitment to maintaining progressive information technology practices by Middle East information security leaders across organizations in the region,” Amsler added.

Raytheon Foreground Security offers the ProActive Threat Hunting, or PATH, service, which takes a new approach by automating much of the traditional MSS model and allowing analysts to perform advanced hunting for threats that can circumvent traditional security controls.