AI playing a major role in cyber defense

Channel Post speaks with Shahnawaz Sheikh, Sales Director for Middle East and Turkey at SonicWall  on the growing importance of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in ever evolving landscape of cyber security in Middle East

Shahnawaz Sheikh, Sales Director for Middle East and Turkey at SonicWall

What role AI will play in driving the cyber security solution market in the region?
AI is playing a major role in most of the cyber defense solutions these days.  AI applies deep learning algorithms to detect and prevent from hidden threats or anomalies before they occur.  The customers in the region have witnessed the effectiveness of AI and machine learning as the region is defending the global and regional threats targeted towards certain verticals in the region.

Please explain whether by adding AI capabilities to security solutions make these solutions expensive? What kind of ROI do these AI driven cyber security solutions offer to the customers?
It is purely a technology advancement and adding AI capabilities will make the solution stronger by addressing the defense needs of today’s threats viz., Zero day, Hidden and anomalies that need to be guarded and protected even before they hit.  The AI driven solutions are much stronger, dynamic and foresees a threat ahead of its execution than the conventional type of cyber protection solutions that can protect you from mainly the known threats.

The sophistication of AI and machine learning helps in deep learning of user activity and its pattern of access and helps in restructuring or correlating data to identify the threat possibilities and notify early or defend from such anomalous attacks.

What kind of AI driven cyber security solutions do you offer?
SonicWall is no less in adopting the AI techniques into our solution, we offer CAPTURE Client as our endpoint protection solution offerings that uses the AI and machine learning techniques to understand the endpoint threats and endpoint behavior.  Based on these behavioral techniques and machine learning intelligence we are able to detect and protect our users from not only known but also from unknown threats and threats that goes into an endpoint and remains in a stealth-mode and detonates at later time.

Today with the help of AI, we are able to protect our endpoints from such threat behavior.  We also introduced our Real Time Deep Memory Inspection (RTDMI) which helps in identifying unique malware variants not seen before by the sandboxing technology.

How big is the cyber security solutions market in the Middle East and UAE in particular? What kind of growth are you expecting in this market?
According to a GCC Cyber Security Market report by Goldstein Research, the GCC cyber security market accounted for USD 7.2 billion in 2016 and is anticipated to reach USD 11.4 billion by 2024. Further, the GCC cyber security market is projected to register a CAGR of 5.9% during the forecast period i.e. 2016-2024 as GCC businesses are preparing themselves for more advanced cyber threat levels especially in the era of technology development and implementation.

Most of the cyber security professionals in GCC are mainly located in Saudi Arabia and UAE in the two largest countries for government organizations, financial services and private/industrial businesses. On the other hand, Qatar, Kuwait and Oman accounts for much smaller number of cyber security professions, generally a fraction of total number of ICT workers in respective countries. Geographically, UAE accounted for the largest market for advanced cyber security solutions with more than 35% market share in GCC cyber security market owing to expanding BFSI sector over the past few years. Saudi Arabia closely follows UAE accounting for 30% market share in the GCC cyber security market and growing at a healthy rate on the back of mounting Oil & Gas Sector.

Please comment on the cyber security landscape in the UAE. How would you define the cyber security preparedness for the private and government sector in the UAE?
UAE has been in the center-stage of been an early adopter of state-of-the-art technologies and especially when it comes to Cybersecurity, UAE is setting an example or a best use case towards adoption and preparedness.  Many government departments connected to e-governance will ensure they have done the right feasibility study of adopting the latest technology in their networks, the planning also includes all other ingredients viz., Training, Realtime monitoring, preparedness from incident response and remediation to deliver business continuity and availability of systems.

What advice would you like to offer to the corporate users?
AI should be seen as an advancement in innovation that only helps in better defense and better protection of businesses.  In some solution scenarios it requires the humans to feed lot of data and help the AI based techniques to get better and better as it catches speed and dives deep into the business data bringing the right and effective result to the businesses.  My advice to corporates is to quickly adopt and accept AI approach, open up for more threat intelligence sharing and co-relation of threat database for more efficacy and efficiency of threat protection.