Outlook 2022: “Threat Intelligence is Very Crucial”

Ashraf Koheil, the Director of Business Development at Group-IB MEA, says last year accelerated cyber maturity and awareness of the region’s companies.

How was 2021 for the industry and your company?
This year has brought about valuable cybersecurity advancements, insights, and breakthroughs. The pandemic has accelerated digital transformation all around the world; however, it has in equal parts instigated additional challenges within the industry. An increase in the remote workforce due to the COVID-19 has also increased the attacks surface significantly and raised the profile of the cyber security industry in the region.

The threat landscape has evolved, which can be observed from Group-IB’s latest Hi-Tech Crime Trends report 21/22. This year has helped Group-IB push forward and strives in our partnerships, assisting our clients and major law enforcement groups in gathering the needed intelligence to stop the threat actors in their tracks and contribute to justice.

What were your key achievements in 2021?
The year 2021 has brought us many successful ventures. Still, some of our most notable achievements within the last year include our office launch in Dubai, thus becoming the home of the MEA Threat Intelligence & Research Center. Our client and partner base in the region increased significantly after we established regional HQ here.

We greatly improved our visibility into local-specific threats. In a bid to raise awareness about cybersecurity and Group-IB’s capabilities our team participated in the region’s major thought leadership events, such as GISEC 2021, @HACK, 1st Arab Banking Cyber Security Forum, and many others.

We have also assisted global and national law enforcement in cross-border investigations, saving companies and individuals alike millions of dollars in damage repair.

According to you, which technologies will be in demand in 2022?
Within the cybersecurity world, threat intelligence is a crucial part of planning protective measures to understand the nature of the attacks alongside the attackers themselves. More and more companies realize the importance of relevant data about cyber threats and adversaries and look to optimize strategic, operational and tactical cybersecurity decision-making. Hence, we believe that demand for tailored threat intelligence will continue to grow further in the region and elsewhere.

It is also fair to expect the rise of all types of scams and fraud seeking to get personal and payment data. Scammers claim that they represent big-name firms and trick the victims into giving away their personal data which is used later for fraudulent purposes. We’ll keep innovating in the areas of Digital Risk Protection and Fraud Hunting to deliver best-in-class products in these categories to the regions’ companies.

And of course, with the threats of ransomware globally on a larger scale than ever before, Digital Forensics and Incident Response services will continue to be in demand. The UAE and Saudi Arabia are the second and third most countries within the Middle East by the number of victims published on ransomware data leak sites, according to Group-IB’s Hi-Tech Crime Trends 2021/2022 report. Once ransomware hits you, there is not much you can do about it.

Thus, protecting regional firms and corporations and making sure they are capable to withstand and are prepared well for further growth of the ransomware empire will remain one of our main focus areas for the coming year.

What promises does 2022 bring along?
Last year accelerated cyber maturity and awareness of the region’s companies. I expect local organizations to be a lot more informed about cybersecurity risks and know better what they are looking for. Naturally, demand for professional cybersecurity services, skills development, and cyber education will continue to grow.

More companies will be looking for full-service portfolio vendors committed to SLAs. And we are perfectly suited here to keep up with the demand with our equally strong product and service arms and most importantly our battle-tested experts who carried out more than 1,200 successful investigations over 18 years around the world are enriching the Group-IB’s technology ecosystem with a first-hand understanding of intrusion tactics used in the most sophisticated cyberattacks.

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