MANAMA: Businesses offering financial services have until March next year to fully comply with new Central Bank of Bahrain (CBB) regulations on cyber risk management, experts have warned.

According to Grant Thornton Bahrain director for IT advisory Nishith Saxena, banks and other firms must complete the required gap analysis urgently with the deadline looming and non-compliance fetching immediate attention from CBB.

The expert said the ever-present danger from cyber threats has been amplified as companies accelerate digitisation, shifting their business to hybrid model, and move quicker than before to enhance efficiency and to stay relevant.

“In the months ahead, I think a lot of companies are going to need to redeploy and revisit their technology spend on cyber security related solutions,” explained Mr Saxena.

“We have also noticed a new urgency to respond to the recent developments and threats experienced by businesses. To address this need, skill is the key and our teams, both locally and globally, have been busy supporting our clients to respond to the growing cyber threat landscape.”

He was referring to the recent Log4Shell vulnerability in popular Java logging framework Log4j, the identification of which has sparked widespread concern even amongst leading global organisations.

Log4Shell is a zero-day vulnerability – named as such since affected organisations have zero days to patch their systems – that allows attackers to remotely run code on vulnerable servers running Log4j, which developers use to keep a record of what’s happening inside an application as it runs.

Mr Saxena asserts that banks, asset managers and insurers who invest in fully digitising their internal operation and tap into technology innovation will be the ones who can lead without losing focus of cyber risks ahead.

Adding further, the Bahrain-based audit and advisory firm’s senior partner Jatin Karia said, “Businesses both locally but alobally are facing increasing risks of serious attacks with each passing day. They need to be prepared for cyber threats that have almost overnight empowered attackers who are looking to get a foothold in networks to sell that access to ransomware operators.”

However, according to Mr Karia, steps taken in the kingdom signal a positive approach to implementing the vital requirements for organisations to keep in step with the growing concern on cyber risk.

Also commenting was Grant Thornton Bahrain managing partner Jassim Abdulaal who said: “It is never easy to embrace change, but Bahrain is moving forward rapidly to establish appropriate frameworks. This is a visionary move as the cost of a cyber-attack has risen to $4.24 million globally across the industry over the last few years, fuelling a greater demand for cyber insurance coverage and driving the need for an increasing number of businesses that are resilient to an evolving cyber-risk landscape.”

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