Online mask ads mystery revealed as Saudi banks launch cybersecurity campaign

Online mask ads mystery revealed as Saudi banks launch cybersecurity campaign
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Updated 24 November 2020

Online mask ads mystery revealed as Saudi banks launch cybersecurity campaign

Online mask ads mystery revealed as Saudi banks launch cybersecurity campaign
  • Phishing is the most favorite technique employed by cybercriminals to obtain personal and financial information by masquerading as a trustworthy organization

RIYADH: The mystery surrounding a series of eye-mask adverts which have caused a stir on social media has been revealed with the launch of a new cybersecurity campaign by a group of Saudi banks.
The Khalaha Lek (keep it for yourself) initiative aims to raise awareness about financial fraud, explain how people can protect their personal information, and combat hackers and other online tricksters.
The banks participating in the program are Al-Rajhi Bank, NCB, Riyad Bank, SABB, Samba, ANB, Banque Saudi Fransi, Alinma Bank, The Saudi Investment Bank, Bank Albilad, Bank Aljazira, and Meem.
Financial fraud and phishing — where hackers posing as reputable organizations try to gain access to sensitive information — has increasingly become a problem not just in Saudi Arabia, but worldwide.
The Nilson Report, the leading global card and mobile payments trade publication, reported that global losses to fraud reached $27.85 billion in 2018, and are projected to rise to $35.67 billion in five years and $40.63 billion in 10 years.
According to a 2017 report by the Center for International Communication (CIC), the number of cases of bank fraud in Saudi Arabia are lower than most countries in the world.
However, at a time when rates of forgery and fraud in the industry have been rising steadily throughout the world, most cybersecurity experts still urge caution.
Muhammad Khurram Khan, professor of cybersecurity at King Saud University and founder and CEO of the Global Foundation for Cyber Studies and Research, told Arab News that people should not take the threat of phishing lightly.
“Phishing is a constantly growing global cybersecurity concern that uses social engineering techniques to target online users and has also become one of the top methods to perform ransomware attacks. It is estimated that over 90 percent of hacking attempts are performed by some sort of phishing scams and spam messages,” he said.
Khan urged users to carefully check their emails and messages to ensure that they were coming from a verifiable source.
“Phishing is the most favorite technique employed by cybercriminals to obtain personal and financial information by masquerading as a trustworthy organization.
“The price tag of a successful phishing attempt could cost tons of money in loss, business operations disruption, damage to the organization’s reputation, and hefty fines from regulatory bodies,” he added.
Saudi cybersecurity specialist, Abdullah Al-Jaber, told Arab News that the initiative could not have come at a better time, and he was pleased to see so many big-name banks throwing their weight behind it.
“It’s awesome that they tried to approach the public in a different way, rather than the usual text messages or emails that many people tend to ignore,” he said.
He also praised the focus on providing awareness to the public, and the emphasis on taking care of personal data.
“The videos they shared did touch on multiple ways of hacking, such as phishing campaigns using phone calls, emails, and texts. Those are the most common attacks that we see regularly here in Saudi and the GCC.
“It’s also helpful that they went public with the campaign during the G20 Summit, as with such events, hacking and cyberattacks tend to increase,” he added.
Khan said that a one-size-fits-all solution to protect against cyberattacks did not exist, but a combination of different strategies, solutions, tools, and services could help people to become more safety conscious.
“Equipping users and organizations with cybersecurity knowledge and awareness, the exercising of basic cyber-hygiene and best practices, and implementation of rudimentary cybersecurity controls could help to mitigate the risks and diminish the success of cyber incidents,” he added.
He also warned people not to click on web links in unsolicited emails or messages, and never to open email attachments from unknown sources.
“Similarly, we should avoid sharing our personal data and banking information with anyone impersonating a bank or an organization,” said Khan.
To help with this, the Saudi banks’ initiative has a dedicated team to assist users in ensuring the validity of any emails or messages they receive supposedly from the banks in questions. A form is available on the website at https://khalha-lk.com, where users can enter their information along with a screenshot of the received email to be evaluated by the team.


Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
Updated 16 January 2021

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials

Saudi Arabia’s first COVID-19 vaccine set for clinical trials
  • It will go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority

RIYADH: Preclinical studies on the first Saudi vaccine against COVID-19 have been completed.

Professor of epidemiology Dr. Iman Almansour, who heads the team of researchers working on the vaccine at the Institute for Research and Medical Consultations (IRMC), affiliated with Imam Abdulrahman Bin Faisal University (IAU), confirmed to Arab News on Friday that the studies were complete, and said clinical trials would begin as soon as “the proper approvals” had been given.

She did not specify when that is expected to happen.

The Ministry of Education is financing the team’s project. The team’s research paper has been published in the peer-reviewed journal Pharmaceuticals.

The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen.

Dr. Iman Almansour, professor of epidemiology

According to the published paper, the vaccine has so far proven effective, when used on animals, in eliciting antibodies that will target the virus. “The vaccine is given to the body to build protein inside cells, which stimulate the body to produce immunity specific to the S antigen,” Dr. Almansour explained.

Dr. Turki Almugaiteeb, director of Healthcare and Life Sciences at RPD Innovations, which runs the National Vaccine and Biomanufacturing Center, told Arab News: “There is a great focus on the results of medical research because of the pandemic. Research can play a great role in developing a vaccine that can be adopted and further developed in the future. We can say that the Kingdom has a strong infrastructure, which can help produce and manufacture a national vaccine.”

Both Almugaiteeb and Almansour stressed that the experimental vaccine will need to go through rigorous testing and several trial stages before it is approved for use by the Saudi Food and Drug Authority.

Prof. Nasser Al-Aqeeli, the deputy minister of education for research and innovation, said the ministry supported programs at the Kingdom’s universities with more than SR500 million ($133.3 million) in 2020.