Women and children top Saudi cybersecurity agency’s list of priorities

Women and children top Saudi cybersecurity agency’s list of priorities
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Updated 05 February 2020

Women and children top Saudi cybersecurity agency’s list of priorities

Women and children top Saudi cybersecurity agency’s list of priorities
  • New initiatives aim to protect children online, and increase number of women in cybersecurity jobs
  • Plans unveiled by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar on first day of Global Cybersecurity Forum

RIYADH: The National Cybersecurity Authority of Saudi Arabia on Tuesday launched two new initiatives. The first aims to improve the protections that safeguard children in the digital world, and the second is designed to boost the representation of women in cybersecurity jobs.

They were unveiled by Riyadh Gov. Prince Faisal bin Bandar on day one of the two-day Global Cybersecurity Forum.

“We are honored to launch two mega initiatives that aim to protect children and to empower women in cybersecurity, under the supervision of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman,” said Basmah Al-Jedia, general manager of the NCA’s Center of Strategic Studies.

She said that not enough is being done by most online services to protect young people, with the result that children face huge risks, including cyberbullying and identity theft.

“Therefore having such an initiative on a global scale, and looking into partnerships that Saudi Arabia could lead, is really an amazing effort,” she added.

The empowerment of women in all areas of Saudi society, including the workforce, is an important part of the Kingdom’s vision for the future, and the field of cybersecurity is no exception.

“As a Saudi woman working in cybersecurity, I consider it a historic moment for (the NCA) to launch a global cybersecurity initiative that will foster and elevate the representation of women in the cybersecurity field and help ensure they are at its forefront,” said Al-Jedia. Women are severely underrepresented in the cybersecurity sector, she added, representing only 20 percent of the workforce.

“We are aiming through this initiative to (improve) female representation and ensure that we are leading the way in this in the cybersecurity workforce,” she said.

The Kingdom is a leading global target for cyberattacks and the NCA is working to protect the country from a threat that is constantly shifting.

“It is really an evolving risk that is targeting the whole globe,” said Al-Jedia. “The threat just keeps expanding because we are living in a world that is digitized, so everybody is at risk from cyberattacks.

“In Saudi Arabia, the NCA was established in 2017 and reports directly to the king. Through this, Saudi Arabia has set a standard to take cybersecurity to the next level.”

She added that the authority is honored to host the Riyadh forum, which is intended to provide a global cybersecurity platform bringing together international organizations from the private and public sectors.

“We are hosting more than 130 speakers from about 60 countries, all of them working together to increase the resilience of the cyber world,” said Al-Jedia.