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Middle East organizations identify cyber breach, disaster recovery, and user access as 2021 top technology challenges, as per Protiviti & ISACA study

Global survey covered more than 7,400 IT audit and risk leaders and professionals including those from the Middle East

KSA; February 22, 2021: According to the recent survey, jointly conducted by Protiviti and ISACA, covering the Top Technology Risks for organization in 2021, cybersecurity, privacy, data and resilience emerged as the top technology challenges for organizations, with COVID-19 pandemic further heightening global concerns by impacting business conditions, risks, and priorities.

The survey covered more than 7,400 IT audit leaders and professionals globally, including organizations from the Middle East who took part in the survey, highlighting cyber breach, disaster recovery, and user access to be their main concerns for 2021.

Sanjay Rajagopalan, Managing Director, Protiviti Member Firm and leader of Internal Audit & Financial Advisory for the MENA region said: “As in previous years, cybersecurity remains the number one challenge in the Middle East and other regions, with other key concerns including disaster recovery, security incident management, confidentiality, privacy, compliance and governance. Of course, COVID-19 has exacerbated concerns, and together with increasing digitalization is driving the need for more frequent risk assessments.”

Another key finding of the report was that organizations with a higher level of digital maturity see the top risks as being more important than other organizations – and are more likely to identify and assess technology risks more dynamically and more regularly. They also incorporate more advanced technologies and make greater use of data and technology to support enhanced customer engagement and operational performance, as well as the digitalization of products and services. As a result, these ‘Digital Leaders’ can develop closer real-time views of risks, are more agile, and can respond more effectively to the rapidly evolving risk landscape.

Only 5% of organizations surveyed are considered Digital Leaders when ranked using the ISACA/Protiviti Digital Maturity Scale. These organizations have a proven track record of disrupting traditional business models, and continually improve digital aspects of strategic plans based on lessons learned and predictive indicators.

Ranjan Sinha, Managing Director – Technology Consulting, Protiviti Member Firm, stated: “It’s clear that Digital Leaders gain competitive advantages through the way they address technology/digital risks, including increased frequency of risk assessments – something that is enabling Digital Leaders organization to deal more effectively both with the global pandemic and with digital/technology transformation. The report notes that while high-velocity risks such as cyber breaches and privacy are the most highly rated issues, it is important that organizations do not defer the handling of other risks that are slower-moving yet have the potential to cause major impact over time; these can include talents and skills, addressing future of work, legacy infrastructure, technology business enablement and technology governance & orchestrations.”

The survey found that most organizations are identifying and assessing technology risk for the purposes of audit planning – a positive development. However, ongoing digital transformation and continuing short-term uncertainty places ever-greater importance on frequent internal audits focusing on data and technology.

The survey report is available for complimentary download from Protiviti here and from ISACA here, in addition to an infographic that highlights key findings.


Media contact: Ranya Al Bayoumi/ Lisa George, Iris Public Relations, Dubai, UAE. Tel: +97144341207. E-mail: Ranya@irispr.net or Lisa@irispr.net.  Website: www.irispr.net

About Protiviti

Protiviti (www.protiviti.com) is a global consulting firm that delivers deep expertise, objective insights, a tailored approach and unparalleled collaboration to help leaders confidently face the future. Protiviti and our independent and locally owned Member Firms provide clients with consulting and managed solutions in finance, technology, operations, data, analytics, governance, risk and internal audit through our network of more than 85 offices in over 25 countries.

Named to the 2020 Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For® list, Protiviti has served more than 60 percent of Fortune 1000 and 35 percent of Fortune Global 500 companies. The firm also works with smaller, growing companies, including those looking to go public, as well as with government agencies. Protiviti is a wholly owned subsidiary of Robert Half (NYSE: RHI). Founded in 1948, Robert Half is a member of the S&P 500 index.


For more than 50 years, ISACA® (www.isaca.org) has equipped individuals with knowledge, credentials, education, and community to progress their careers and transform their organizations and enables enterprises to train and build quality teams. ISACA is a global professional association and learning organization with 145,000 members who work in information security, governance, assurance, risk, and privacy. It has a presence in 188 countries, including more than 220 chapters worldwide.

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