DUBAI: Help AG, the cybersecurity arm of UAE telecommunications operator Etisalat, is planning to treble its workforce in Saudi Arabia as part of a wider goal to double its business in the Kingdom by the end of the year, the company’s new Saudi head told Arab News.
“Help AG has had a growing business in KSA for the past two years. My appointment is a testament to the company’s clear direction of rapidly expanding in the Kingdom. We are making significant investments into hiring the right talents, and plan to treble the existing workforce over the coming few months,” Fahad Al-Suhaimi, who this month was appointed Help AG’s country director for Saudi Arabia, said in an interview.
“Our new Cyber Security Operations Center in Riyadh is going to be live by the end of this quarter, making us ready to be a market front-runner when it comes to securing digital transformation for enterprise and government organizations,” he said.
Founded in Germany in 1995, Help AG has operated in the Middle East since 2004. Abu Dhabi-headquartered Etisalat bought its regional business in 2019.
Al-Suhaimi has more than 15 years’ experience in driving business expansion in the technology industry, with roles in project management, business development, sales and marketing strategy. He joins Help AG from Innovative Solutions SA, where he was vice president of sales and marketing. Before that, he served in management positions at Mobily, SAS, HP, Saudi Telecom Company and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
Based in Riyadh, Al-Suhaimi will be responsible for leading business growth and expansion across the Kingdom at a time when organizations are looking to accelerate their digital transformations.
“We plan to double the business in 2021 and are looking forward to positioning ourselves as the trusted cybersecurity adviser and partner to organizations in the Kingdom,” he said, adding that the Saudi market has a lot of potential.
“The digital threat landscape is increasing in the region as a whole, and Saudi Arabia is a prime target as it has a large population where most are connected to the web. Saudi companies have to navigate this digital transformation quickly and efficiently as delays can be costly,” he said.
Al-Suhaimi said that a 2020 study by the Ponemon Institute found that the cost of a data breach in the UAE and Saudi Arabia has risen by 9.4 percent over the past year, costing companies in the region $6.53 million per breach on average, markedly higher than the global average of $3.86 million per breach.
The coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic and the surge in e-commerce and digital payments “has shined a big spotlight on our industry,” he said.
“The overnight shift of millions of workers from on-site to remote work in response to the outbreak has drastically expanded the attack surface, luring cybercriminals and hackers to capitalize on the work-from-home disruption and confusion, and sheer volume of new target opportunities online.”
The cybersecurity sector has certainly seen advances in recent months. The Public Investment Fund (PIF) last month announced the launch of the National Security Services Company (SAFE) to improve and develop the private security sector in the Kingdom.
The new security services company will focus on four main areas: Security consulting services, integrated security solutions, training and development programs, and command and control centers.
US multinational IBM Security last month announced the official opening of its first security operations center in Saudi Arabia. The Riyadh center will offer IBM’s private and government sector clients in the Kingdom the option of managing their security operations around the clock via the company’s staff and local infrastructure.
The opening of the new facility comes after a survey commissioned last year by cybersecurity firm Tenable found that 95 percent of businesses in the Kingdom experienced a cyberattack in 2019.
In addition, 85 percent of Saudi respondents to the study said that they had seen a dramatic increase in the number of attacks in the past two years.
Companies suffered loss of customer or employee data, ransomware payment demands and financial loss or theft, the study found.