The cost of data breaches has risen over the past year, and companies in the UAE and Saudi Arabia can now expect to spend approximately $6.53 million whenever private and confidential information is compromised, according to IBM Security’s latest report.

Data breaches have become commonplace as companies shift to the digital world and consumers increasingly spend their time online, particularly during the coronavirus pandemic, when remote working has been widely encouraged.

When cybercriminals hack into a database or people inadvertently give away their personal information, such as bank account or credit-card details, companies often bear the ultimate responsibility.

For Saudi and UAE companies, that cost has risen by 9.5 percent over the past year. In particular, every lost or stolen record costs companies approximately $188 in the two markets.

Higher than global average

The financial impact in the region is bigger than in other markets, with the average breach cost surpassing the global average of $3.86 million and is the second-highest among the 17 regions included in the study.

IBM Security released on Wednesday the Middle East findings of its 2020 Cost of a Data Breach Report, which was based on an in-depth analysis of real-world security incidents taking place between August 2019 and April 2020.

More than 3,200 security professionals in companies that suffered a data breach over the past year were interviewed for the study.

Who suffered the most?

According to IBM, firms in the healthcare industry incurred the highest per record cost of a data breach, followed by those in the financial services and technology sectors.

As to what caused the security incidents, malicious attacks were common in the region, representing 59 percent of data breaches in Saudi and UAE. 

A lot of the breaches, around 24 percent of the cases, also occurred during system glitches, while human error accounted for 17 percent.

Hackers have been busy recently, especially since a lot of people are staying at home during the coronavirus pandemic.

According to security expert Kaspersky, the UAE alone registered more than 68,000 cyberattacks on smartphones from January to June this year, with an increase during the quarantine.

Saudi Arabia saw 160,000 attacks in five months, while Kuwait had 20,000 and Oman recorded 15,000.

(Reporting by Cleofe Maceda; editing by Seban Scaria)

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