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ISJ Influencers 2022- John Cowling, Independent Security Consultant


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Following the realisation that the new normal due to the COVID pandemic requires a significant adaptable and flexible approach to working, we have observed successful organisations willing to embrace change in this dynamic environment as well as other organisations with often a more conservative and traditional approach struggling to adapt and continue to deliver the products and services that enable them to provide solutions that the market needs and thus continue profitability and have a positive cashflow.

This change of business environment, both with a different mindset often involving remote working and accepting the dynamic operational requirements of today and the future has placed additional demands on today’s security professional. These demands have raised the significance of cyber threats especially with the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) elements with largely increased remote working with personnel working from home via their own routers and IT equipment, some of which may not be as secure as their employers, as well as isolation of personnel who may be more susceptible to increased attacks via social engineering.

More recently, with the reduction on the restrictions relating to international travel, there is also an increased demand for resumption of business travel to service clients and rebuild trust through face-to-face contact. These in-person visits, we all agree, are essential for maintaining good client relationships as well as delivering the products and services.

All of this contributes to the determination of what will be the major threats facing many organisations in 2022 which due to their breadth and depth will present challenges to many businesses that may have tight limitations on resources and budgets.

Threat themes for 2022 are likely to include:

  • Travel security, merging safety and security concerns such as health related from COVID along with ensuring all of the security concerns are maintained and, in some cases, heightened
  • Cyber and IT related including hardware from BYOD and remote working as well as increased online attacks from malware and phishing
  • Continuation of criminal and terrorism threats against physical property, which will have to be managed against likely reducing security work force and budget

Also of note is that with the planned return to an office by many organisations who depend on interpersonal collaboration and delivery of services, there is an increased potential for workplace unrest and violence as political and ideological views of the workforce spill over from their personal lives into their professional lives.

Regionally, the Middle East will continue to grow especially within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s expressed intentions for continuation of their mega projects. The caution here is for both security professionals and organisations to expand within their capabilities which should be planned for this growth in a systematic and strategic manner, mindful of the parameters and constraints.

Overall, the coming year presents as many opportunities as challenges for those security professionals who are able to be flexible and adaptable in their approach for the delivery of solutions that are organisation focused, that are both holistic in strategy and yet detailed in both tactical and operational levels of the organisation’s operations and daily activities.


John has been based in the Middle East region since 2005 with a career spanning over 30 years. He considers himself fortunate to be regularly deployed across the Middle East region and into Africa, Asia and Europe delivering practical security risk consulting solutions at strategic, tactical and operational levels for culturally diverse organisations typically across critical infrastructure, government and transportation sectors but with a wide experience also extending to construction, mega projects and management consulting.

This article was originally published in the December 2021 edition of International Security Journal. Pick up your FREE digital edition here

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