Cybersecurity awareness: A challenge for Saudi Arabia

Updated 12 April 2018

Cybersecurity awareness: A challenge for Saudi Arabia

  • KSA experiences some 160,000 cyberattacks daily, says cybersecurity center
  • Worldwide expenses on cybersecurity forecast to reach $96 billion in 2018

DHAHRAN, Saudi Arabia: Cybersecurity is a worldwide phenomenon that represents a complicated challenge wherever technology is used. It affects governments, corporations, and individuals. 

With continuous cybersecurity updates come new threats and challenges, and the need for awareness among technology users. 

With rapid growth in technology in the Kingdom, mass awareness about cybersecurity must also increase. 

Saudi Arabia experiences some 160,000 cyberattacks daily, according to the National Center for Cyber Security at King Abdul Aziz City for Science and Technology.

“Cybersecurity wasn’t really introduced widely in Saudi Arabia until recently,” Yousef Guzaiz, manager for information security governance, risk, and compliance at telecommunications company Mobily, told Arab News. 

“According to a recent study by Gartner, the American research and advisory company focusing on IT and business, worldwide security spending is forecast to reach $96 billion in 2018. This tells you how severe the issue is,” he said.

“Everyone must always protect their personal private information (PPI). No one should ever share their personal information with anyone, including credit card details, because PPI can be leaked, misused and exploited for blackmail, fraud and theft,” he added.

“Even if you have strong firewalls, the best intrusion-prevention systems, and the most effective antivirus and malware-detection solutions, a critical component is still missing from the cybersecurity chain: The human factor. The end-user attack can’t always be prevented because at the end of the day, the user is the weakest link in cybersecurity.”

Alanood Al-Shehry, a member of the board of directors of the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity and Programming, told Arab News that the federation “aims to play a pivotal role in this domain via multiple means, including organizing national and international events, providing educational and training courses, hosting national and international competitions, and conducting public lectures.”

The federation “strives to drive a positive change in behavior toward cybersecurity, and encourage the development of cybersecurity experts across the nation,” she added.

It provides services and membership opportunities to both corporations and individuals. “One of the federation’s main objectives is to bridge the gap between educational institutes and industry demands in cybersecurity and programing so corporations can more easily find individuals with the proper skillsets,” Al-Shehry said. 

“The federation plans to organize various contests in cybersecurity and programing, and will help local talent participate in international contests,” she added.

“It will launch specialized educational and training initiatives that range from beginner courses to hands-on, highly specialized ones, along with conferences, workshops and other activities that explore the latest technologies in cybersecurity and programing.”

The federation strives to discover, attract and develop local talent at a young age, when “it’s easier to nurture their talents and enhance their abilities,” she said.


Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi minister of investment

Updated 29 February 2020

Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi minister of investment

Khalid Al-Falih was appointed as Saudi minister of investment after a royal decree issued on Feb. 25 created the new ministry.

He joined Saudi Aramco at the age of 19, and through the company went to Texas A&M University where he obtained a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering in 1982.

Nine years later, he gained a master’s degree in financial business administration from King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals, in Dhahran, and in 1998 completed a Harvard business program in global leadership.

In 1995, Al-Falih was appointed as head of Saudi Aramco’s service department and later that year was given responsibility for running the maintenance department at the Ras Tanura refinery in the Eastern Province.

After assuming a number of different roles within the company, he was promoted to the position of vice director of its excavation works unit. Within four months he was appointed supreme vice president of Aramco’s gasworks department and was selected for a similar position in the firm’s industrial relations department 14 months later.

Al-Falih became the executive vice president for company operations in September 2007 and held the post for nearly a year before a royal decree appointed him as CEO of Aramco.

In 2015, a royal decree tasked Al-Falih to health minister in the Kingdom but just over a year later he returned to Saudi Aramco as chairman of the board of directors after Tawfiq Al-Rabiah was appointed as the country’s health minister. In April 2016, Al-Falih became chairman of the board of directors of the Saudi Arabian Mining Co. (Maaden) and a few days later, a royal decree made him minister of energy, industry and mineral resources.

He was named on the Forbes list of The World’s Most Powerful People in 2016 and two years later the Japanese government awarded him its national decoration, The Order of the Rising Sun.