KSA combats cyberthreats using latest technology

Information and cybersecurity expert Samer Omar
Updated 24 August 2019

KSA combats cyberthreats using latest technology

The 7th Middle East and North Africa Information Security Conference 2019 (MENAISC2019) will take place in Riyadh for the fourth consecutive year between Sept. 9-10, under the theme “Cyber Space, the New Frontier: Deception, Orchestration and Blackholes.”

Information and cybersecurity expert Samer Omar, CEO of VirtuPort’s MENAISC2019, said the increasing number of foreign cyberattacks on the Kingdom in the recent period have pushed for more institutionalization by developing national cadres specialized to combat these attacks. This step, he said, is in line with the Saudi Vision 2030, digital transformation initiatives and the development of e-governance.

“There is a significant qualitative improvement in the quality and number of gifted and talented Saudis working in cybersecurity and we will see in the near future more awareness and greater capacity in this vital sector by these young men and women,” said Omar. He added: “Today, we have specialized courses in cybersecurity in universities and other concerned institutions, and this in itself is a significant transformation that is important and demonstrates the depth of the Kingdom’s Vision 2030.”

Last year, Saudi Arabia recorded the highest number of cyberattacks among all Arab countries and ranked 17th globally in the same context.

The MENAISC2019 will also be hosting the Cyber Saber Hackathon in its third edition, which will attract students from all around Saudi Arabia to try their skills at hacking and defending a model smart city. 

Previous editions of the conference have attracted more than 300 participants from all over the Kingdom, as well as a large number of specialized brands and international media organizations.

The increasing cyberattacks on Saudi Arabia are due to its economy — ranked among the top 20 global economies — being one of the strongest in the Middle East, making Saudi companies and institutions a direct and indirect target of cyberattacks to disrupt their operations and seize their data and resources. 

In line with Vision 2030, the Saudi government is working to support the information technology sector, promote creative and innovative thinking for companies and protect their data and systems.

Omar underlined the need for continued focus on human capital, in addition to investments in tools and technologies required by companies and government agencies to secure themselves from cyber-related threats.


Positive social impact of COVID-19 in KSA: Survey

Updated 12 August 2020

Positive social impact of COVID-19 in KSA: Survey

A survey commissioned by Al-Aghar Group, an independent Saudi think tank, in partnership with global management consultancy Kearney, has revealed that most thought leaders and decision-makers in the Kingdom anticipate that COVID-19 will be a positive accelerant of the transformation already underway in the Kingdom. The survey focused specifically on the social impact of the COVID-19 crisis on the Kingdom through 2025.

Respondents believed that COVID-19 is accelerating the advent of the “future of work” in the Kingdom and more than 65 percent see this as fundamentally positive. About 69 percent see the growing need for the retraining of employees as positive, spurring national adaptation to the new normal. However, the survey also revealed some concerns regarding the security of formal employment and self-employment, with 37 percent seeing the effect of the crisis as negative.

Most survey respondents (70 percent) expect education in the Kingdom to undergo a positive transformation with the adoption of new, innovative, and inclusive modes of learning.

Seventy-eight percent of the respondents believe that the impact of the pandemic on the health care in the Kingdom through 2025 will be highly beneficial.

Fifty-eight percent of respondents believe there will be a wide adoption of telemedicine services in the Kingdom in the near future, as patients gain greater comfort and confidence in this method of consultation with their health providers.

Most respondents believe the health crisis has accelerated the process of digital transformation in the country, particularly in the finance and retail sectors. Seventy-five percent of respondents see the anticipated wider prevalence of e-commerce as positive, and 89 percent see as positive increasing use of cashless payments for face-to-face transactions by 2025.

By 2025, 78 percent of respondents expect that COVID-19 will lead to a significant and welcome (83 percent) step change in government preparedness for future crises. Meanwhile, 68 percent of respondents anticipate a significant impact on government information-sharing and 65 percent anticipate a moderate, but positive change in the willingness of citizens to contribute toward government efforts.

Prince Faisal bin Abdullah bin Mohammed Al-Saud, chairman, Al-Aghar Group, said: “Saudi Arabia has a proud history of resilience and has thrived even in the most challenging situations. While this pandemic has severely affected us all, the survey results confirm the depth of our intention to use this current situation to accelerate our national progress.”

Rudolph Lohmeyer, partner and head of National Transformations Institute at Kearney Middle East, said: “The survey results clearly reveal the deep, optimistic resilience of the Saudi people and their implicit commitment to the Kingdom’s national transformation. Despite the near-term hardships caused by the crisis, respondents anticipate that the most significant medium-term impacts will be positive.”