Ethical hackers play a vital role in combating cybersecurity attacks through software designs that can track cyberattacks targeting networks and information security and then identify their goals and those behind them.
A few weeks ago, the @Hack conference concluded in Riyadh where international speakers, global cybersecurity companies, and specialists of different nationalities participated, offering training courses, workshops, and challenges in the field of cybersecurity in exchange for valuable prizes.
The conference was the first of its kind in the Middle East and North Africa region. The work of hackers is legalized and comes in line with the Kingdom’s ranking in the Global Cybersecurity Index. It came in second place after the US. Its coincidence with Riyadh Season enhances the idea of investing in business tourism.
The event was hosted by the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, in cooperation with the General Entertainment Authority, and with the participation of the Black Hat Briefings, which are held annually in Las Vegas.
Cyberattacks have been increasing dramatically in the past few years and, according to the latest statistics, a cyberattack occurs every 30 seconds globally.
Cybersecurity has been an essential source of income for ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers.
Dr. Bader bin Saud
It is estimated that this year’s cost of cybercrime was $6 trillion. In 1982, the US conducted its first cyberattack against the Soviets during the Cold War, causing gas lines to explode through the Siberian desert.
The fact is, since 2011, cybersecurity has been an essential source of income for ethical hackers, also known as white hat hackers. Electronic mediation companies, such as HackerOne and BugCrowd, hire these hackers, request their services in exchange for a commission of 20 percent deducted from the reward granted to hackers after the vulnerability or security threat is detected.
Cyberattacks may go beyond financial matters and target people as a channel for political or economic gains, or simply for fame and show and technical development in the future. The expansion of the Internet of Things applications and Metaverse technology and the increased connection with the digital world may have led to the development of cyberweapons that outperform conventional weapons.
That may not stop when stealing information of all kinds and does not rule out extending to disrupt control systems in transportation networks, air traffic, and industrial and defense capabilities, causing significant infrastructure losses.
The results will undoubtedly be disastrous, and there is no governance for cybersecurity services. There isn’t anything that prevents their use for immoral purposes. Solutions begin by adjusting the legal relationship between states and local and global companies that host their services and restoring the life of the worldwide agreement that the UN has tried to reach for 15 years and failed, specifically concerning regulating state behaviors in cyber operations. Ethical hackers are one way of going about it.
• Dr. Bader bin Saud is a weekly columnist for Al Riyadh and Okaz, a media and knowledge management researcher, and the former deputy commander of the Special Forces for Hajj and Umrah in Saudi Arabia.