Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 

Special Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 
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Updated 18 January 2023

Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 

Geopolitical instability is raising risk of ‘catastrophic cyberattack’: WEF study 
  • “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report is based interviews with experts and executives
  • Majority of those surveyed warn a critical skills gap threatens societies and key infrastructure

DAVOS: The risk of catastrophic cyberattacks is soaring because of geopolitical instability, according to a report launched at the World Economic Forum’s annual meeting in Davos on Wednesday.

More than 93 percent of cybersecurity experts and 86 percent of business leaders, who were interviewed for the report, believe that “a far-reaching, catastrophic cyber event is likely in the next two years,” and that there is a critical skills gap threatening societies and key infrastructure.

The “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report is based on polls, workshops and interviews with more than 300 experts and senior executives. Half of the companies surveyed said the current landscape is making them reevaluate the countries in which they do business.

Despite challenges, organizations are improving cyber resilience, one of the key priorities of the WEF’s Centre for Cybersecurity.

The report said that awareness and preparation would help organizations balance the value of new technology against the cyber risk that comes with it.

It highlighted the need to address the shortage of talent and skilled experts. A significant 34 percent of cybersecurity experts said they lacked some skills in their team, while 14 percent said they lacked critical skills.

The problem is more pronounced in key sectors such as energy utilities, where nearly 25 percent of the cybersecurity experts surveyed said they lacked the necessary critical skills to protect their organizations’ operations.

Expanding the cybersecurity talent pool is needed to solve this problem, according to “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023,” which was written in collaboration with Accenture.

Several successful cybersecurity skills programs are underway around the world, but many have difficulty scaling to large numbers. Greater cross-industry collaboration and public-private partnerships are needed to overcome this challenge.

Geopolitics is reshaping the legal, regulatory and technological environment. “As global instability increases cyber risk, this report calls for a renewed focus on cooperation,” Jeremy Jurgens, managing director of the WEF, said.

“All stakeholders from public and private sectors who are responsible for our common digital infrastructure must work together to build security, resilience and trust.”

A WEF news release that accompanied the launch of “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” highlighted the views of leading industry figures on a range of topics.

“The research shows that business leaders are now more aware of their organizations’ cyber risks. However, there is the need to go further to assessing and translating the business risk into actionable next steps across the entire organization,” Paolo Dal Cin, global lead of Accenture Security, said.

“Long-term cyber resilience requires a closely coordinated team effort across the C-suite to gain a clearer view of the cyber risks so security can be embedded in all strategic business priorities and protect the digital core. As our digitally connected world expands, now is the time to build cyber resilient businesses for customers, employees and supply chain partners.”

Commenting on the skills gap, Ken Xie, chairman of the board and CEO of Fortinet, said: “The threat landscape continues to expand and evolve with cyber adversaries targeting organizations of all sizes, locations and industries around the world.

“The disruption of operations or services and the compromise of data due to cyberattacks against the backdrop of a global skills gap places every individual, organization and even nation at risk. When we work together to encourage best practices we see greater progress in the fight against cybercrime.

“Shared data and trusted global partnerships can enable more effective responses and better predict future attack strategies to deter adversary efforts.”

Leaders are now more likely than one year ago to see data privacy laws and cybersecurity regulations as an effective tool for reducing cyber risks across a sector. But speed is clearly an issue.

On the question of regulation, Hoda Al-Khzaimi, director of the Center for Cybersecurity and founder and director of Emartsec at New York University, Abu Dhabi, said: “Standardization can take 18 months but a cyberattack takes seconds. The speed at which emerging technologies are implemented often outpaces our ability to build security measures around them. We need to go beyond simple compliance with regulations if organizations are to be cyber-resilient.”

Underscoring the importance of investing in cybersecurity, Nikesh Arora, CEO and chairman of Palo Alto Networks, said: “Cyberattackers don’t rest with macro-economic challenges, they double down on them. There is no path to success that is not heavily driven by AI and automation.

“As companies accelerate their digital transformation journeys, the time for reimagining and investing in cybersecurity architectures — intelligent platforms — is now. Boards and the C-suite must embrace a strategy whereby cybersecurity is deeply embedded across the enterprise from operations to innovation. Only then will organizations be able to create a state of resilience that enables, not inhibits, their strategic business outcomes.”

A lingering, vexing challenge is how to price cybersecurity, according to the “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” report. It quoted one survey respondent as saying: “Board members are interested in risk, opportunities and investment in cost.

“We need to better respond to the question(s), What is the return? How do I know this is a good investment across the myriad of things that I could potentially be invested in? How can we improve at making effective metrics to help boards make better-informed decisions?”

Cybersecurity is also influencing strategic business decisions, with 50 percent of participants in the research saying that it was a consideration when they evaluated which countries in which to invest and do business.

Compared with last year, the report found that board-level executives are more likely to prioritize cyber risk and are more aware of their own role in addressing it. This has led to increased interaction with cybersecurity leaders, “cyber leaders, business leaders and boards of directors are now communicating more directly and more often.” The bad news is that they “continue to speak different languages.”

All too often, according to the report, when security and business leaders discuss cybersecurity, the rapidly evolving contours of cyber risks get lost in translation. Chief information security officers may fail to convey the complex data they have gathered — on risk points, threat actors, mapping of criminal campaigns — into an accessible story that results in specific mitigating actions in their organizations.

Instead, they need to tell stories that align with their corporate and business priorities. “Boards should be presented with a cyber posture that resonates with customers’ and authorities’ expectations and helps address sectorial ecosystem challenges,” said Christophe Blassiau, senior vice-president of cybersecurity and global chief information security officer at Schneider Electric.

Despite this challenge, “Global Cybersecurity Outlook 2023” reports that the disconnect between cybersecurity managers and business executives has begun to close. Both increasingly perceive the elevated degree of risk exposure and are allocating more resources to coordinate responses in an effective manner, it said, adding that the priority today is on speed.

Russia to extend oil production cuts until end of June

Russia to extend oil production cuts until end of June
Updated 15 sec ago

Russia to extend oil production cuts until end of June

Russia to extend oil production cuts until end of June

MOSCOW: Russia announced on Tuesday that it was extending oil production cuts of 500,000 barrels per day until the end of June, a response to Western anctions that was due to expire at the end of March.

“In accordance with the current market situation, the decision to voluntarily reduce production by 500,000 barrels per day will be applicable until June 2023 inclusive,” deputy prime minister in charge of energy issues Alexander Novak was cited as saying by Russian news agencies.

Novak announced the oil production cuts, which amount to about 5 percent of daily output, in February after Western countries announced new sanctions on Russian oil products.

“At the moment, Russia is close to achieving the target level of reduction — it will be reached in the coming days,” Novak added.

The West has imposed a slew of sanctions against Russia since the Kremlin deployed Russian troops to Ukraine, including targeting Moscow’s energy sector.

The International Energy Agency said this month that Russia’s oil-export revenue sank by almost half in February compared to last year.

Moody’s affirms UAE’s Aa2 rating, maintains stable outlook

Moody’s affirms UAE’s Aa2 rating, maintains stable outlook
Updated 10 min 20 sec ago

Moody’s affirms UAE’s Aa2 rating, maintains stable outlook

Moody’s affirms UAE’s Aa2 rating, maintains stable outlook

RIYADH: International credit rating agency Moody’s on Tuesday affirmed the Aa2 long-term local and foreign currency issuer ratings of the UAE’s government with the outlook predicted to remain stable.

Moody’s Investors Service also affirmed the foreign currency senior unsecured debt and program ratings at Aa2 and (P) Aa2, respectively.

As per the report, the UAE federal government’s debt level are likely to remain very low, “supported by its adherence to balanced budget targets and limited spending needs due to the scale of fiscal decentralization within the country.”

Despite being exposed to “longer-term carbon transition risks” and “regional geopolitical tensions,” the rating agency said solid institutions and policymaking helped contain these challenges.

The stable outlook reflects Moody’s expectation that continued efforts by the governments across the UAE to expand non-hydrocarbon revenue, promote the development of non-hydrocarbon sectors and attract foreign businesses and talent may reduce the federal government’s indirect exposure to oil price cycles and a potential acceleration in global carbon transition over the medium term, further strengthening its credit profile.

However, uncertain global geopolitical developments and downside risks to global growth may slow the diversification momentum, while tangible impact of the government's initiatives and policies are likely to take time to materialize, the report added.

The UAE’s local and foreign currency country ceilings remain unchanged at Aaa.

SEVEN and Hasbro join to develop Play-Doh themed centers in Saudi Arabia 

SEVEN and Hasbro join to develop Play-Doh themed centers in Saudi Arabia 
Updated 21 March 2023

SEVEN and Hasbro join to develop Play-Doh themed centers in Saudi Arabia 

SEVEN and Hasbro join to develop Play-Doh themed centers in Saudi Arabia 

RIYADH: Play-Doh themed play centers are on their way to the Kingdom after Saudi Entertainment Ventures reached a deal with Hasbro Inc.

The Saudi group, known as SEVEN, has announced that within the next decade the Play-Doh centers will be in its entertainment destinations in eight locations in the Kingdom.  

The centers will feature multi-level playscapes, creativity stations and sensory discovery activity spaces, as well as a café spot for parents to pass their time, stated the official release.    

“Our Play-Doh themed entertainment centers will inspire the creative minds and imaginations of children across the Kingdom. Children will be able to learn while having fun at our Play-Doh centers located at SEVEN entertainment destinations,” stated the SEVEN’s chairman Abdullah AlDawood.  

SEVEN’s CEO Essam Al Jubair and Hasbro MENA’s Commercial Director Devrim Anadol signed the contract to officiate the partnership.  

SEVEN - owned by the Public Investment Fund – joined with Thinkwell Group, a global strategy, experience design, and production agency, to foster the Play-Doh themed centers. 

By investing over SR50 billion ($13.3 billion) into 21 entertainment destinations, SEVEN is cultivating the Kingdom’s entertainment sector through innovative topnotch entertainment experiences and international collaboration.  

The 65-year Play-Doh brand is currently the number one reusable modeling compound across 80 different countries worldwide.  

“Play-Doh has always been synonymous with imagination; it provides kids the creative freedom to express themselves and brings families together for an engaging and fun activity that is beloved across generations,” added the press release announcing the development.

Closing bell: TASI rises 141.6 points on recovering oil prices

Closing bell: TASI rises 141.6 points on recovering oil prices
Updated 21 March 2023

Closing bell: TASI rises 141.6 points on recovering oil prices

Closing bell: TASI rises 141.6 points on recovering oil prices

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Tadawul All Share Index increased 141.62 points on Tuesday – or 1.39 percent – to close at 10,359.74, from 10,218.12, thanks to oil price rise, extending a recovery.

MSCI Tadawul 30 Index also increased 1.64 percent to 1,410.74, and the parallel market, Nomu, edged down by 0.21 percent closing at 18,928.89.  

TASI’s total trading turnover of the benchmark index was SR4.9 billion ($1.3 billion) as 176 stocks of the listed 224 advanced and 38 receded.    

Arab Sea Information System Co. was the top gainer of the day, closing the trading session up 6.40 percent at SR70.70.

The second-best performer was Thimar Development Holding Co., increasing 9.92 percent to SR48.75 flat.  

Perfect Presentation for Commercial Services Co. was the third-best performer, rising 7.67 percent - or 31 points – to SR435, compared to its opening at SR404. It also announced a tremendous increase in net profit by 63.06 percent to SR131.4 million. The company’s shares closed 9.71 up at SR192.

Other top performers of the day were Saudi Industrial Export and Saudi Advanced Industries Co.

The biggest faller of the day was Yamama Cement Co., slipping by 3.19 percent to SR30.3.  

Elm Co. is the next worst performer of the day, after being the third top performer the day before, decreasing by 2.07 percent to SR426.

The third poor performer was Almarai Co., which drops by 2.01 percent, closing at SR53.6.

The other poor performers were Al-Rajhi Company for Cooperative Insurance and Al Jouf Cement Co.

Riyadh Cement Co, announced its annual financial results for 2022, posting an 11.18 percent decrease in its net profit to SR189.8 million compared to the same period at SR213.7 million in 2021. The company’s share price on the other hand,

Riyadh Cement said in a statement that the decrease in net profit is driven by a decrease in sales, despite the decrease in the general and administrative expenses and zakat expenses.

Alkhorayef Water and Power Technologies Co reported a net profit of SR107.4 million in 2022, up 4 percent from SR103 million in 2021, closing at SR131.8 per share

Saudi Company for Hardware incurred a ­­major loss in net profit by 400.1 percent to SR142.5 million. The drop was mainly due to a drop in sales by 11.7 percent in 2022, increasing inventory provision by SR38.5 million and booking impairment loss on non-financial assets by SR29.7 million. The company’s share price dropped by 1.25 percent to close at SR27.65 per share. 

Alinma Tokio Marine Co. announced its annual financial results for 2022, posting a total comprehensive profit for the current year of SR8.6 million, up from a loss of SR14.8 million. Alinma’s share price closed at SR14.62, up 0.97 percent.

Al Alamiya for Cooperative Insurance Co. reported a net comprehensive loss for the current year of SR52.8 million compared to SR36.8 million in the previous year, which is an increase of 43.32 percent. Al Alamiya’s share price edged up 0.17 percent to close at SR12.02.

Middle East Paper Co. on the other hand, posted a 22.58 percent increase in net profit to SR270.7 million in 2022 compared to SR220.5 million in the previous year. The increase in net profit was attributed to growth in revenues by 12 percent to SR130 million. The share price also increased by 0.98 percent closing at SR30.75

National Gas and Industrialization Co. also announced its annual financial results for 2022 posting a 6.3 percent increase in net profit to SR214.1 million. Yet, the company’s share price decreased by 0.53 percent to close at SR56.

Jahez International Company for Information System Technology reported a major decrease in net profit of SR58.9 million, down 49.62 percent compared to 2021. Jahez attributed the decrease to an increase in the segment net profit by 56 percent to SR180.4 million from SR115.9 million and an increase in Zakat expenses. However, the share price increased by 0.15 percent to close at SR664 per share.

Furthermore, Banan Real Estate Co. announces positive annual financial results for 2022, reporting a 52.39 percent rise in net profit to SR37.4 million from SR24.3 million in 2021. However, its share price slightly decreased by 1.40 percent closing at SR56.5.

The company said in a statement that the increase is due to a rise in rental revenues, driven by the acquisition of a hotel apartment building in the Sulaymaniyah district and the Plaza 46 building in the Qurtoba district.

Aldawaa Medical Service Co. also posted a notable increase of 27.73 percent in net profit of 2022 to SR305.4 million compared to SR227.7 million in the previous year. The medical services company’s share price increased by 1.51 percent, closing at SR74.1.

“The reason is mainly due to the increase in sales and the rationing of expenses with resulted in improving the gross profit and operating profit,” Aldawaa said in a bourse filing.

The Medical services company, Mouwasat, also reported a 3.63 percent increase in net profit in 2022 at SR599 million, due to an increase in the number of visits in the outpatient sector and the increase in occupancy rates in the internal departments. The share price increased 2.35 percent, closing at SR200.

On the other hand, Arriyadh Development Co. achieved a net profit of SR300.4 million during the current period, indicating an almost 6 percent drop. This is mainly due to a 16 percent decrease in Tanal’s revenues, which is an associate company.

Global renewables capacity grew by 10% last year: IRENA

Global renewables capacity grew by 10% last year: IRENA
Updated 21 March 2023

Global renewables capacity grew by 10% last year: IRENA

Global renewables capacity grew by 10% last year: IRENA

LONDON: Global renewable energy capacity grew by 9.6 percent last year but needs to grow by three times the current rate to limit global warming, the International Renewable Energy Agency said on Tuesday.

IRENA's annual report on renewable energy statistics said global renewable energy capacity amounted to 3,372 gigawatts at the end of last year, some 295 GW or 9.6 percent higher than the previous year.

Some 83 percent of all new power capacity last year was from renewables.

"This continued record growth shows the resilience of renewable energy amidst the lingering energy crisis," IRENA’s Director General Francesco La Camera said.

"But annual additions of renewable power capacity must grow three times the current level by 2030 if we want to stay on a pathway limiting global warming to 1.5C," he added.

Solar and wind energy dominated the renewable capacity expansion, jointly accounting for 90 percent of all net renewable additions in 2022, the report said.

Almost half of the new capacity was added in Asia. China was the largest contributor, adding 141 GW to Asia's new capacity.

Renewables in Europe and North America grew by 57.3 GW and 29.1 GW respectively, while the Middle East recorded its highest increase in renewables on record, with 3.2 GW of new capacity commissioned in 2022, an increase of 12.8 percent from the previous year.

On Monday, a report by the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change said emissions must be halved by the mid-2030s if the world is to have any chance of limiting temperature rise to 1.5 degrees Celsius above pre-industrial levels — a key target enshrined in the global climate pact the Paris Agreement.