Exploring Cybersecurity Ecosystem in the Middle East: Towards an SME Recommender System

Keywords: Cybersecurity, network, cloud, endpoints, framework, vendor, SME/SMB, IT awareness, IT security


Cybersecurity is described as the protection of data resources by treating threats that jeopardize data. Enterprises must manage the cybersecurity risks so that the security and resilience of their assets may be improved. Cyber-attacks on Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) are rising. However, they often lack effective strategies to prevent threats such as malware, phishing, denial of service (DoS), and others. Their weak defense system is often an attractive avenue for hackers to explore loopholes. There is a lack of cybersecurity initiatives in SMEs, and several past attacks have exposed the weak systems. This paper first attempts to investigate the current scenario of cybersecurity in the context of Middle East SMEs. A survey of SMEs in the Middle East (cybersecurity space) helped understand the existing scenario, actual requirements, and challenges SMEs face. The research then explores the need for SMEs to choose the apt security solution to cater to their business needs. By reviewing the existing standards and pointers in different parts of the world, this research proposes a cybersecurity recommender system for SMEs in the Middle East. One of the survey findings reveals that most SMEs require adequate cybersecurity awareness, followed by evaluating the organization’s preventive capabilities. The dearth of information available online and the IT consultants’ conflicting guidance usually creates an information overload in deciding a neutral solution to address their needs. The recommender system attempts to structure the information available as a framework in deciding a cybersecurity solution for SMEs.


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Author Biographies

Nadir Naveed Ahmed, Westcon, United Arab Emirates

Nadir Naveed Ahmed is currently working at Westcon-Comstor, international distributor of business technology , as a cybersecurity consultant handling a major security product, Palo Alto Networks, in guiding customers and their IT teams to prevent successful cyberattacks. Having recently graduated from Middlesex University with the post graduate degree in Master of Science – Cloud Computing & Network Management, he is more interested in providing secure solutions to novice customers and currently looking for a research topic in the domain of cybersecurity to further enhance his industry experience.

Krishnadas Nanath, Middlesex University Dubai, United Arab Emirates

Krishnadas Nanath is an Associate Professor in Data Science at Middlesex University Dubai. He is also the Founder of Insights Lab. An applied data analytics hub with more than 450 active members in the club. In his previous role @Majid Al Futtaim, he was responsible for leading the efforts of enhancing Analytics and Data Science capabilities @MAF as part of the School of Analytics & Technology (Leadership Institute). Before joining MAF, he was a Professor of Data Science, MIS and Cloud Technologies at Middlesex University Dubai, IMT Dubai and IIM Indore in the Information Systems Area. He has executed several corporate training programs and Data Science consulting assignments with prestigious firms in UAE (PWC, Landmark Group, National Bank of Fujairah, UAE Exchange and others). He has been the Keynote Speaker at several forums including Gitex Technology Week IIM Ahmadabad Data Science Summit, Smart Data Conference, Droidcon, Machine Learning Summit, Abu Dhabi Quality Council and several conferences. He received his PhD from the Indian Institute of Management Kozhikode (IIM K) and his thesis covered the areas of Green IT (Sustainability Analytics) and Cloud Computing. His career started as a Computer Science engineer (B.Tech CSE) and he had successful professional experiences with Microsoft Research and Honeywell.


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