RIYADH: Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar, on behalf of King Salman, inaugurated the two-day Global Cybersecurity Forum on Tuesday, which brings together the world’s top cyber experts to strengthen the links between the region’s cybersecurity infrastructure and the global cybersecurity ecosystem.
Organized by the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA), the forum is hosting global policymakers, businesses, investment firms and international organization representatives to discuss how the world’s collective cybersecurity should be maintained.
Thanking the king for patronizing the forum, the governor, in his opening address, affirmed that Saudi Arabia was witnessing major modernization in accordance with Saudi Vision 2030.
He announced two initiatives to serve global cyber security, launched by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman: The first on the protection children in cyberspace, and the second for the empowerment of women in cybersecurity.
“The forum provides opportunities to exchange experiences and mix ideas, and discuss best international practices, and the most important developments,” Prince Faisal said.
He also expressed his confidence that the forum would enhance confidence and joint responsibility among countries participating through sharing of experience and cybersecurity strategies.
Speaking at the opening session, Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Sawaha praised the announcement of the two global initiatives saying: “The first initiative is … related to securing a safe cyberworld for our children, where we can reach a minimum level of bullying and aggression to protect this space. We should also focus on women, and we are launching a women’s initiative in the world of cybersecurity.
“On the basis of these two initiatives, we are fully confident that we can succeed and realize the opportunities of the 21st century by empowering people, protecting the physical and digital world, and achieving new success.
“It is expected during the next five years that the digital economy will represent a quarter of the global economy,” he added, stressing the need to seize this opportunity by facing the challenges of the fourth industrial revolution.
He pointed out that the World Economic Forum’s latest Global Risks Report indicated that cybersecurity faced the greatest challenges, threatening an industry with an economic value of more than $6 trillion, equivalent to the economy of more than a third of the G20 countries.
NCA Gov. Khalid Al-Sabti made a presentation on the Kingdom’s cyber journey and the way forward. The NCA’s Chairman Musaad Al-Aiban said: “We are excited to host this forum and act as a catalyst for cybersecurity cooperation and innovation. The constantly evolving threat landscape requires intensified global cooperation on cybersecurity and the Global Cybersecurity Forum is encouraging global leaders to take meaningful actions to better protect the world’s economies and make cyberspace safer for all.”
The forum, which is convening more than 1,200 participants from 58 countries, is being attended by some of the world’s leading cybersecurity companies, including Microsoft, IBM and FireEye, and is anticipated to generate significant investments in the cybersecurity industry, accelerating the development of Saudi Arabia’s rapidly growing cyber sector and supporting the growth of the global cyber industry.
The forum will help bolster global cooperation between regional and global cybersecurity players. Five major memorandums of understanding (MoU) will be signed by the NCA on the sidelines of the forum to provide better cybersecurity training to young people, and collaborate with international organizations on cybersecurity strategies.
The MoU between the NCA and the Global Resilience Federation will seek to enhance cybersecurity protections for critical national infrastructure through improved information sharing and threat mitigation strategies.
The MoU with Underwriters Lab is a strategic partnership that will enable the Kingdom to further enhance its national capabilities in cyberthreat mitigation, whereas the MoUs signed with King Abdullah University of Science and Technology, the Saudi Human Resources Development Fund and Neom will enable Saudi students to acquire a deep knowledge and understanding of cybersecurity matters, increasing the pipeline of qualified cybersecurity professionals.
Over the two days, participants will discuss how the issues under the forum’s five themes (cybersecurity industry, international cyber collaboration, cyberculture, cyber disruption, and cyberthreats and resilience) should be understood and what responses need to be developed to strengthen the integrity of the world’s cyber defenses.