Wanted: information security experts to protect Middle Eastern banks

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Banks in the Middle East are under attack from cyber threats. It’s not unusual for financial institutions to be targeted by hackers, but – unlike large banks in Western locations – those in the Middle East are not as well defended. There’s now something of a scramble to bring information security experts to the region.

Thousands of retail customers were had their log on details stolen recently by a cyber-snooping programme called Gauss, according to security analysts at Kaspersky. Bank of Beirut, EBLF, BlomBank, BybiosBank, FransaBank, Credit Libanais, PayPal and Citibank were all targeted.

Although this is a one-off, banks in the region are now increasingly conscious of information security threats, and are increasing their IT spend and hiring in specialists to combat these threats, suggest financial services recruiters.

On the one hand, Big Four consulting firms are beefing up their teams, either in response to specialists being seconded to the region or relocating people on-the-ground to take advantage of growing demand for their services from local financial institutions. On the other, banks themselves are hiring information security experts, IT auditors, IT security architects and ethical hackers to ensure their defences are up to scratch.

“Information security experts are being recruited by banks in places like London and New York, and they’re relatively scarce even there, so finding talent in the Middle East is a real challenge,” says one specialist recruiter in the Middle East. “So far, banks have resisted pushing up salaries, but this could change if this battle for talent continues.”

Handy skills to have is a knowledge of security monitoring tools like Cisco Works, PRTG and Wire Shark. However, a formal qualification - CCSA NGX Certification or CCSE – is also desirable.

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