Experts: Creation of Saudi cybersecurity center boosts internet user confidence

Participants at the Information Security Conference in Riyadh on Tuesday. (AN photo)
Updated 22 November 2017

Experts: Creation of Saudi cybersecurity center boosts internet user confidence

RIYADH: Participants at the Information Security Conference, which concluded on Tuesday in Riyadh, strongly felt that the establishment of the National Cyber Security Center (NCSC) provided added confidence and security to internet users at all levels.
The Information Security Conference in the Middle East and North Africa region hosted over 400 cybersecurity professionals, students and sponsors, who discussed the factors threatening the internet, especially in relation to economic, medical, governmental, financial and other services.
Amir Kannan, the general manager of Kaspersky Lab in the Middle East, said the NCSC, headed by Dr. Musaed bin Mohammed Al-Aiban, would keep tabs on all intrusions that threaten cybersecurity. He said Saudi Arabia has given utmost priority to cybersecurity and it is evident from the establishment of the NCSC.
Referring to a recent study, Kanaan pointed out that targeted attacks have become one of the fastest growing threats in 2017. Sixty-four percent of respondents in the study conducted in Saudi Arabia agreed that threats are becoming more complex and it is becoming increasingly difficult to tell the difference between generic and complex attacks.
He said Kaspersky Lab has drawn attention to the evolving nature of cyber threats, which are becoming a major problem for businesses.
Of the respondents from Saudi Arabia, 39 percent have stated that they are starting to realize that a security breach will happen to them at some point, while an alarming 44 percent are still unsure of the most effective strategy to respond to these threats
Stressing that technology is one of the most important parts in this mix, he said there is a clear need for security solutions that go beyond prevention and provide a complete package, also adding a detection and response functionality. Citing an example, he said, 45 percent of the Kingdom’s businesses agree that they need better tools to detect and respond to advanced persistent threats (APTs) and targeted attacks.
The CEO of VirtuPort and the organizer of the conference, Samer Omar, said the conference achieved its objectives of promoting an advanced society in the technology sector and enhancing opportunities for senior leaders and thinkers in the field of electronic information security to meet with government officials and representatives of specialized sectors in the Kingdom.
George Patsis, chief executive officer of Obrela, noted that global spending on information protection will rise by $117.4 billion by 2019, and cybersecurity spending between 2017 and 2021 will reach $1 trillion.
Many international companies specialized in combating cyber threats and information security attended the conference. Representatives of those companies stressed the importance of promoting effective proactive measures that will systematically reduce cybersecurity threats through the management of professionally qualified units.
Saudi Arabia’s security officials said on Monday that the country had been targeted as part of a wide-ranging cyber espionage campaign observed since February against five Middle East nations as well as several countries outside the region, reported Reuters.
The NCSC said in a statement the Kingdom had been hit by a hacking campaign bearing the technical hallmarks of an attack group dubbed “MuddyWater” by US cyber firm Palo Alto Networks.
Palo Alto’s Unit 42 threat research unit published a report last Friday showing how a string of connected attacks this year used decoy documents with official-looking government logos to lure unsuspecting users from targeted organizations to download infected documents and compromise their computer networks.
The Saudi security agency said in its own statement that the attacks sought to steal data from computers using email phishing techniques targeting the credentials of specific users.
The NCSC said they also comprised so-called “watering hole” attacks, which seek to trick users to click on infected web links to seize control of their machines.
Saudi Arabia has been the target of frequent cyberattacks, including the “Shamoon” virus, which cripples computers by wiping their disks and has hit both government ministries and petrochemical firms.
Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, was hit by an early version of the “Shamoon” virus in 2012.


Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Updated 14 August 2020

Fahad Al-Azzam, assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Saudi Ministry of Health

Fahad Al-Azzam has been the assistant deputy minister for empowerment at the Ministry of Health since September 2019.
He has also been the general manager for enterprise at the ministry’s project management office since July 2016, where he developed and implemented a standard set of project management processes and models, and built the framework and updated it to account for developments and best practices.
It was announced on Monday that Al-Azzam’s role as assistant deputy minister for empowerment has been extended for another year.
Al-Azzam obtained a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering at King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, Dhahran, in 2007. He studied abroad in the US, obtaining a master’s degree in engineering and technology management from the University of Bridgeport, Connecticut, in 2014.
Prior to his current position, Al-Azzam worked as a cooperative trainee at the Saudi Electricity Co. between May and October 2006.
At the Advanced Electronics Co., he worked as an assistant field service engineer between July 2007 and May 2009, and technical support and field service engineer between May 2009 and December 2010.
At the Saudi Food and Drug Authority, he worked as senior electrical engineer at their radiation safety department between January 2011 and February 2015.
He developed a safety program for exporting and importing electronics devices to and from Saudi Arabia and worked at controlling the risk resulting from the use of radiation-emitting devices. He also worked there as a project manager at their project management office between February 2015 and July 2016.