Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams. (Shutterstock)
Updated 15 February 2019
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Saudi Arabia in the crosshairs as cyber-raids target Gulf

  • Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019
  • Criminal phishing attacks rising sharply, cybersecurity experts warn

RIYADH: Online phishing attacks are on the rise with experts warning of increasing numbers of cyber-raids targeting Saudi Arabia and other Gulf countries.
Phishing is a type of fraud where criminals target online victims, using deception to acquire users’ credentials, ranging from passwords to credit card and bank account details, and other financially sensitive information.
Cybersecurity experts say the numbers of attacks worldwide have risen dramatically, increasing from over 2 million in the first two weeks of February last year to more than 4.3 million in the same period this year.
Mohammed Khurram Khan, a professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University (KSU), told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia, due to its strong position in political, social and economic spheres, has been a key target for cyber-intrusions by state and nonstate actors aiming to compromise its national security.
“Various types of malware and scams, especially phishing, are used to target critical information infrastructure, which serve as the backbone of the economy,” he said.
More than 90 percent of malware is distributed by email with hackers seeking to trick users with fake invoices and other scams, said Khan, who is also the founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, a Washington-based cybersecurity think tank.
“Computer users in Saudi Arabia have been confronted with more than 30 million phishing emails in recent years,” he said.
Khan said that awareness, training and “cyber-hygiene” were important to protect users and organizations from phishing scams.
KSU has developed a pioneering cybersecurity awareness product, “Rawam,” which helps organizations train employees to deal with malicious hacking, malware, ransomware, phishing and cyberattacks.
The bilingual tool has been used to train 100,000 staff in 40 different organizations, he said.
The World Economic Forum (WEF) last month warned of the growing likelihood of cyberattacks in the Gulf, with Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar particularly vulnerable.
Cyberattacks were ranked as the second most important risk after an “energy shock” in these three Gulf states, according to the WEF’s flagship Global Risks Report 2019, released ahead of the annual forum in Davos.
Cybersecurity experts from the Kaspersky Lab, a multinational digital security provider, detected a sharp increase in phishing activities on the eve of the Valentine’s Day.
The overall number of user attempts to visit fraudulent websites detected and blocked by Kaspersky Lab in the first half of February exceeded 4.3 million.
“The spike offers a reminder that we should be cautious when surfing the web, even if we are just buying flowers for our loved one,” said Andrey Kostin, a senior web content analyst.


Saudi Arabia says deposits $250 million into Sudan's Central Bank: statement

Updated 19 May 2019
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Saudi Arabia says deposits $250 million into Sudan's Central Bank: statement

  • Saudi Arabia and UAE pledged to send $3 billion worth of aid to Sudan
  • The remaining amount will be allocated to meet the urgent needs of the Sudanese people

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia said on Sunday it deposited $250 million with the Sudanese central bank, according to a statement from the Kingdom’s ministry of finance.

Saudi Arabia and the UAE pledged to send $3 billion worth of aid to Sudan, after mass protests led to the ouster of president Omar al-Bashir last month.

The move will strengthen Sudan’s “financial position, alleviate pressure on the Sudanese pound and achieve more stability in the exchange rate," the statement said.

Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates have deposited now $500 million into Sudan’s Central Bank, the first instalment of the joint package of aid.

The remaining amount will be allocated to meet the urgent needs of the Sudanese people, including food, medications and oil derivatives.

Mohammed Abdullah Al-Jadaan, Minister of Finance, confirmed that this deposit constitutes an extension of the Kingdom’s support to the Sudanese people.

He added that this support will strengthen the financial and economic situation in Sudan, especially the exchange rate of the Sudanese pound, which should reflect positively on the living conditions of the Sudanese citizens.