The average total cost of a data breach in Saudi Arabia and the UAE combined is US$5.31 million, a 7.1 percent increase since 2017, according to tech giant IBM Security.
The results of IBM's Middle East study examining the full financial impact of a data breach on businesses located in the two Gulf countries found that breaches cost companies $163 per lost or stolen record on average. It also revealed that the root cause for 61 percent of breaches in Saudi Arabia and the UAE is malicious or criminal attacks, followed by system glitches at 21 percent and human error at 18 percent.
"We are living in an age of exponential change with more data, connected devices and computing power than ever before. While this offers businesses tremendous opportunities, it also creates more ways for potential data breaches within an organization," said Dr Tamer Aboualy, CTO of Security Services, IBM Middle East & Africa.
"The 2018 report reveals that the major cause of a data breach is malicious or criminal attacks for organisations in Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The potential damage from cyberattacks extends beyond the obvious issue of businesses and consumers losing money. It can dramatically impact a company’s reputation, damaging the trust and loyalty of its customers, business partners, investors, and others."
The study also examined factors which increase or decrease the cost of the breach, finding that costs are heavily impacted by the amount of time spent containing a data breach, as well as investments in technologies that speed response time.
In Saudi Arabia and the UAE, the average time to identify a data breach in the study was 260 days, and the average time to contain a data breach once identified was 91 days.
Companies that contained a breach in less than 30 days saved over $1 million compared to those that took more than 30 days, it added.
By industry, financial services, services and technology topped the list as the most expensive industries for data breaches, costing Saudi and UAE organisations $219, $201 and $188 per record, respectively.
One major factor impacting the cost of a data breach in the two countries was the reported cost of lost business, which was $2.2 million.