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Alain Penel, the Regional Vice President for Middle East at Fortinet, speaks about how disruptive technologies will shape technology innovation this year

What’s shaping the IT industry in the region?
Disruptive technologies like AI, machine learning, robotics, autonomous vehicles, and blockchain have played a key role in shaping technology innovation and adoption in the region in 2019. I believe it will continue to transform the way businesses operate in 2020 as well.

As Government-backed projects like the Smart Cities initiatives are boosting IoT adoption while the formation of a ministry for AI is encouraging businesses to incorporate AI into their processes. Above all, this is Security that has made its way to boardroom discussions.

What will be the next big thing in technology in 2020?
AI will continue its popularity in 2020. From a network security vendor point of view, combining machine learning with statistical analysis to predict attacks by uncovering the underlying attack patterns of cybercriminals will enabling an AI system to predict an attacker’s next move, forecast where the next attack is likely to occur, and even determine which threat actors are the most likely culprits. Additionally, I believe that the adoption of 5G, cloud deployments and hyper-scale are the next big trends for 2020.

How are you and your company gearing up to explore the opportunities in 2020?
The challenge of securing digital infrastructure will continue to grow in 2020. Fortinet’s portfolio of security, networking, and business productivity solutions that are tightly integrated to ensure that today’s organizations can confidently build the digital business infrastructure they need without compromising on security. 

The attack methods and strategies of cyber adversaries also will continue to expand. Organizations need to start using the same types of technologies to defend their networks that criminals are using to compromise them. That means adopting an intelligently integrated approach like the Fortinet Security Fabric which segments the entire network—from the Internet of Things (IoT) to the cloud—to provide superior protection against sophisticated threats.

What sort of challenges do you foresee for 2020?
Cybercriminals are continuing to focus on finding ways to stay a step ahead of cybersecurity professionals. We have seen that swarm technology has shown new potential. Indeed, advances in swarm technology, have powerful implications in the fields of medicine, transportation, engineering, and automated problem-solving.

However, if used maliciously, it may also be a game-changer for adversaries if organizations do not update their security strategies. When used by cybercriminals, bot swarms could be used to infiltrate a network, overwhelm internal defenses, and efficiently find and extract data. In addition, the advent of 5G may end up being the perfect incubator for the development of functional swarm-based attacks.

By weaponizing 5G, individually exploited devices could become a conduit for malicious code, and groups of compromised devices could work in concert to target victims. Given the speed, intelligence, and localized nature of such an attack, legacy security technologies could be challenged to effectively fight off such a strategy.

Which markets will be your main targets for business and regional growth in the upcoming year?
The UAE and Saudi Arabia will continue to be key target markets for Fortinet owing to a number of large landmark projects and the technology vision of the leadership. Oman, Kuwait, Bahrain, and Pakistan are also growing markets where we have an established customer base with new opportunities in the pipeline.

What sort of technology trends can we look out for in 2020?
From a network security point of view, we can look forward to SD-WAN being a popular technology for organizations looking for business application steering, cost savings, and performance for Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) applications. In addition, with the volume, velocity, and sophistication of today’s global threat landscape, organizations must be able to respond in real-time at machine speed to effectively counter aggressive attacks. We predict that advances in artificial intelligence and threat intelligence will be vital in this fight.

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