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Mena cybersecurity spend grows to $3.3bn to fight AI crime

AI cybersecurity arab woman computer screen Reuters/Ahmed Jadallah
Criminals are increasingly using generative AI, computer systems that can create fake information and fake images for use in cybercrime.
  • 12% increase on spend
  • Data privacy budgets rising
  • Cloud security also on the up

Spending on cybersecurity and risk management in the Middle East and North Africa will rise 12 percent in 2024 to $3.3 billion, the research group Gartner is forecasting.

The rise in spending is a reaction to the growing use of generative AI to create fake information and fake images for use in cybercrime.

Shailendra Upadhyay, senior research principal at Gartner, said the rapid growth of generative AI is “expanding the threat landscape” as criminal usage of it also rises.

ChatGPT and other “large language model” applications, such as Google’s Gemini, have placed generative AI on the cybersecurity agenda for many businesses.

Large language model programmes are capable of generating frequently convincing conversations, stories and narratives.

Jon Amato, a senior analyst at Gartner, said that generative AI “creates new attack surfaces, which security leaders must be ready to defend”.

Upadhyay added that the GCC has recently implemented protection laws for handling the personal data of identifiable individuals, in line with the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation. 

Spending on data privacy is projected to see the highest growth rate of all cybersecurity segments this year, increasing 24 percent compared to 2023.

“These laws require Mena organisations to maintain a higher standard of data privacy and cybersecurity measures, resulting in an increase in spending on data privacy,” Upadhyay said.

Investment in security for cloud computing environments, where customers can access on-demand computing power, boosted by the adoption of services such as Amazon’s AWS and Oracle Cloud, is expected to rise by 17 percent. This is the second highest growth rate for cybersecurity in 2024. 

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