87% of CISOs in the Middle East Find Application Security a Blind Spot

87% of CISOs in the Middle East Find Application Security a Blind Spot

Dynatrace released its annual CISO survey. “The state of application security in 2024” reveals that organizations are struggling with internal communication barriers, which hinder their ability to address cybersecurity threats. The results indicate that CISOs in the Middle East, exactly like their counterparts throughout the world, face difficulties in aligning security teams and the C-suite, leaving gaps in the organization’s understanding of cyber risk. Consequently, they find themselves more exposed to advanced cyber threats, at a time when AI-driven attacks are on the rise.

In this year’s global report, Dynatrace explored these communication gaps to better understand how a unified approach to observability and security can help teams collaborate more effectively and reduce exposure to risk. And the key findings for the Middle East include:

  • Lack of C-level and board alignment leads to cyber risks: CISOs struggle to drive alignment between security teams and the C-suite, with 87% of CISOs saying application security is a blind spot at the CEO and board level.
  • Security teams are too technical: Seven out of ten C-suite executives interviewed say security teams talk in technical terms without providing business context. However, 77% of CISOs highlight the issue is rooted in security tools that cannot generate insights that C-level executives and boards of directors can use to understand business risks and prevent threats.
  • AI is driving more advanced cyber threats: Addressing this technology and communications gap is becoming more critical as the rise of AI-driven attacks and cyber threats significantly increase business risk.

Against this backdrop, more than three-quarters (76%) of Middle Eastern CISOs say their organization has experienced an application security incident in the past two years. These incidents carry significant risk, with CISOs globally highlighting the common consequences they’ve experienced, including impacted revenue (47%), regulatory fines (36%), and lost market share (28%).

“Cybersecurity incidents can have devastating consequences for organizations and their customers, so the issue has rightfully become a critical board-level concern,” said Bernd Greifeneder, Chief Technology Officer at Dynatrace. “However, many CISOs are struggling to drive alignment between security teams and senior executives because they’re unable to elevate the conversation from bits and bytes to specific business risks. CISOs urgently need to find a way to overcome this barrier and create a culture of shared responsibility for cybersecurity. This will be critical to improving their ability to respond effectively to security incidents and minimize their risk exposure.”

Additional research findings include:

  • The need to drive closer engagement between security teams and the C-suite is becoming more important as the rise of AI exposes organizations to added risk. CISOs across the world are concerned about AI’s potential to enable cybercriminals to create new exploits faster and execute them on a broader scale (52%). They are also concerned about AI’s potential to allow developers to accelerate software delivery with less oversight, leading to more vulnerabilities (45%).
  • As they look for a solution, 81% of Middle Eastern CISOs say DevSecOps automation is more important to manage the risk of vulnerabilities introduced by AI.
  • From a global perspective, 71% of CISOs say DevSecOps automation is critical to ensuring reasonable measures have been taken to minimize application security risk.
  • An 80% of CISOs in the Middle East say DevSecOps automation will be essential to their ability to stay on top of emerging regulations such as the SEC cybersecurity mandate, NIS2, and DORA, while an additional 79% say the need for multiple application security tools drives operational inefficiency due to the effort needed to make sense of disparate sources of data.

“The growing use of AI is a double-edged sword, creating efficiency gains for both digital innovators and those seeking to breach their defences,” continued Greifeneder. “On the one hand, there’s a greater risk of developers introducing vulnerabilities through AI-generated code that has not been adequately tested, and on the other, cybercriminals can develop more automated and sophisticated attacks to exploit them. Adding further pain, organizations must also comply with emerging regulations such as the SEC mandate, which requires them to identify and report on the impact of attacks within four days. Organizations urgently need to modernize their security tools and practices to protect their applications and data from modern, advanced cyber threats. The most effective approaches will be built on a unified platform that drives mature DevSecOps automation and harnesses AI to deal with distributed data at any scale. These platforms will provide the insights the entire business can rally behind and use to demonstrate compliance with stringent regulations.”

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