Saudi Arabia leads global cybersecurity with new platform

The 2022 global Cybersecurity forum was themed ‘rethinking the global Cyber order,’ and covered a spectrum of issues including women in cybersecurity, safe children in cyberspace, and the psychology of cybercriminals. (Global Cybersecurity Forum)
The 2022 global Cybersecurity forum was themed ‘rethinking the global Cyber order,’ and covered a spectrum of issues including women in cybersecurity, safe children in cyberspace, and the psychology of cybercriminals. (Global Cybersecurity Forum)
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Updated 09 July 2023
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Saudi Arabia leads global cybersecurity with new platform

Saudi Arabia leads global cybersecurity with new platform
  • Global Cybersecurity Forum institute will ‘harness intellectual power, spearhead multilateral collaboration’

RIYADH: The Global Cybersecurity Forum Institute, established in Riyadh after a royal decree issued by King Salman in June, is a response to the rapid development and evolution of cyberspace, as well as its potential to benefit and transform society.

What is cybersecurity? In simple terms, it is the practice of defending computers, mobile devices, electronic systems, networks, servers and data from malicious attacks.

In recent years, the Kingdom, the largest information and communication hub in the Middle East, has faced increasing numbers of cyberattacks, especially due to the rise in digital devices such as smartphones, tablets and computers.




The 2022 global Cybersecurity forum was themed ‘rethinking the global Cyber order,’ and covered a spectrum of issues including women in cybersecurity, safe children in cyberspace, and the psychology of cybercriminals. (Global Cybersecurity Forum)

Saudi Arabia was the target of 7 million cyberattacks in the first two months of 2021.

“When there’s political tension in the region, cyberattacks immediately rise,” Saudi cybersecurity expert Abdullah Al-Gumaijan told Arab News. “Also, the utilization of cyberweapons increased due to attackers now realizing the value of such attacks as they continue to prove their power and damage. Therefore, the trends toward investments in cyberattacks are growing.”

The development of cybersecurity institutes marks not only the Kingdom’s commitment both domestically and internationally to curbing the frequency of such attacks, but also to the importance of cybersecurity as a societal good.

“The GCF Institute is a global platform that seeks to strengthen society’s resilience through shared priorities, purposeful dialogue, and impactful initiatives,” a spokesperson at the institute told Arab News.

NUMBER

110m

According to the Trend Micro Annual Cybersecurity Report for 2022, a total of 110 million threats were detected and blocked in the Kingdom by its cybersecurity solutions.

“It will serve as a space where the world’s relevant stakeholders collaborate and act to benefit all societies and nations. By harnessing intellectual power and spearheading multilateral collaboration, the institute aims to contribute to a more stable and secure cyberspace for all.”

The institute aims to tackle the most challenging cybersecurity issues facing governments, businesses and individuals. It intends to serve as “a catalyst for the exchange of ideas, driving thought leadership and developing research to inform policy solutions and action,” according to its opening statement.

The institute also plans to facilitate international projects, cross-cultural and global pollination of ideas on new and existing key initiatives regarding cyberspace.

According to the statement: “It will serve as a platform to advance stability, security, and prosperity of cyberspace by catalyzing socioeconomic change, pushing knowledge boundaries, and uniting global champions. Its objective is to pioneer global initiatives that will maximize the benefits of cyberspace and build resilience through dialogue, investment, research and innovation.”

Experts say the initiative shows that the Kingdom is determined to become a world leader in cybersecurity. The country is currently ranked second worldwide in the cybersecurity index within the World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2022 published by the Switzerland-based International Institute for Management Development, which is considered one of the most comprehensive reports in the world.

By providing a secure platform for digital activities, (cybersecurity) fosters trust in digital commerce, encourages the development of new technologies, and facilitates the digital transformation of industries.

Moataz Binali, Trend Micro regional vice president

The National Cybersecurity Authority and bodies such as the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones, and the Ministry of Communications and Information Technology, have been instrumental in the Kingdom’s rise in the field of cybersecurity, advancing laws, controls and talent development.

Moataz BinAli, regional vice president and managing director at Trend Micro in the Mediterranean, Middle East, Central Asia and Africa regions, told Arab News: “Saudi Arabia’s leadership in global cybersecurity stems from a holistic strategy, balancing regulation, talent cultivation, technological innovation, and international collaboration. The decree by King Salman to establish the Global Cybersecurity Forum Institute underlines this commitment, aiming to elevate cybersecurity measures on a global scale.”




Moataz Binali, Trend Micro regional vice president

Trend Micro is the first global cybersecurity giant to launch its Middle Eastern headquarters and local cloud data lake in Saudi Arabia. It is a global leader in cybersecurity solutions, and aims to make it safe for businesses and consumers to exchange digital information.

“The institute is designed to complement these efforts, fostering international cooperation and socioeconomic growth in cybersecurity,” BinAli added. “With an international board of trustees and an advisory council of global experts, the institute will facilitate knowledge exchange and collaborative opportunities.”

He explained that according to the Trend Micro Annual Cybersecurity Report for 2022, a total of 110 million threats were detected and blocked in the Kingdom by its cybersecurity solutions.

Saudi Arabia is leading the cybersecurity field in the Arab world. While the country has been a prime target for cyberattacks, BinAli said it has “converted adversity into strength, emerging as the Middle East’s largest cybersecurity market.”

He said that the Kingdom’s proactive approach to cybersecurity reflects an appreciation “of its global relevance and a vision that goes beyond national borders, making significant contributions to the international cybersecurity ecosystem.”

Several initiatives have been implemented to bolster cybersecurity awareness among the country’s populace and its businesses in the past few years, ranging from cybersecurity awareness drives and training initiatives to contests designed to stimulate student interest in cybersecurity.

This year, the Saudi government ramped up its adherence to cybersecurity regulations, and also witnessed a rise in the emergence of cybersecurity startups and an increase in cybersecurity job opportunities.

BinAli also highlighted how the social transformations under Vision 2030 have contributed to advancements in cybersecurity in the country.

The concerted effort to enhance female workforce involvement has resulted in a surge of Saudi women in technical and leadership positions in cybersecurity. This advancement is evident as women now account for 45 percent of the country’s cybersecurity workforce, according to the Saudi Federation for Cybersecurity, Programming and Drones.

The National Cybersecurity Authority’s comprehensive 2023 National Plan for Cyber Assessments says that it is set to carry out extensive cybersecurity evaluations for national entities, with a concentration on compliance audits and technical cyber reviews of crucial systems. The plan aims to proactively identify and manage cyber risks at a national level, while ensuring compliance with the standards and controls established by the authority.

Also pivotal is the Haseen Initiative launched by the authority in 2022. It embodies a holistic approach to cybersecurity, and aims to foster collective security by facilitating information sharing on cyber threats and incidents among national entities.

The platform also aids compliance management, aligning entities with regulations such as the National Cybersecurity Framework and General Data Protection Regulation. It curbs phishing and email frauds through its robust email authentication service, thereby bolstering national resilience against cyber threats.

Other measures taken by the Saudi government include integrated cybersecurity governance; effective management of cyber risks; the protection of cyberspace and strengthening the security of critical infrastructure and information systems; strengthening national capabilities in defense against cyber threats; strengthening partnerships for collaborative security; and building national capacity to strengthen the cybersecurity ecosystem in the Kingdom.

Key initiatives launched include the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Center to raise awareness of cybersecurity efforts; the passing of the Cybersecurity Law to provide a legal framework for cybersecurity; the development of a National Cybersecurity Awareness Program to educate citizens and residents; and establishment of the National Academy of Cybersecurity to train and upskill the Kingdom’s cybersecurity workforce.

Ultimately, as such initiatives underline and BinAli emphasizes, robust cybersecurity enhances quality of life, as well as economic and digital innovation.

“Cybersecurity plays an integral role in enhancing the quality of life, particularly in our digital-first world,” said BinAli. “It safeguards our online existence and the digital services we’ve come to rely on daily — from online banking, e-commerce, healthcare and education to social networking and more.

“It protects our personal information and privacy online, providing the security required to enjoy the benefits of the digital world without fear of identity theft, fraud, or privacy breaches.”

Cybersecurity is key to ensuring that essential services function seamlessly. Critical infrastructures such as power grids, transportation, health care systems, and financial services are increasingly reliant on digital networks. Robust cybersecurity measures prevent disruptions caused by cyberattacks, maintaining the reliability and availability of these vital services.

“Lastly, cybersecurity promotes economic growth and innovation. By providing a secure platform for digital activities, it fosters trust in digital commerce, encourages the development of new technologies, and facilitates the digital transformation of industries,” he added.

 

 


Saudi university secures X-ray film patent

Saudi university secures X-ray film patent
Updated 12 sec ago
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Saudi university secures X-ray film patent

Saudi university secures X-ray film patent
  • The patent details the creation of biodegradable organic nanomembranes designed to replace synthetic membranes currently used in laboratories

RIYADH: Imam Mohammad ibn Saud Islamic University has been granted a new patent by the US Patent and Trademark Office for a pioneering X-ray film made from bio-materials.

This innovation, developed by a team of researchers including Sharif Hussein, Mohammed Saad Al-Issa, Hassan Ahmed Rudaini, Nasser Adam Ibrahim, Mohammed Mousa Al-Zahrani, and Salem Ali Al-Yami, represents a significant advancement in the field of biological sciences.

The patent details the creation of biodegradable organic nanomembranes designed to replace synthetic membranes currently used in laboratories, surgeries, biomedical engineering, bioengineering, and dentistry.

These innovative membranes are not only biodegradable but also environmentally friendly, offering a sustainable alternative to conventional synthetic films.

This accomplishment is a result of the university’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship Center’s Patent Deposit and Registration Program, an initiative aimed at supporting and enhancing patent registrations by university staff, thereby safeguarding the institution’s intellectual assets.


TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May

TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May
Updated 24 June 2024
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TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May

TVTC reveals 25k jobs created in May
  • TVTC said it signed 54 agreements with several authorities during the month and implemented 136 programs
  • TVTC held 214 meetings with human resources officials from various bodies to discuss cooperation and partnerships to attract graduates

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Technical and Vocational Training Corp, in coordination with the business sector, provided 25,171 job opportunities for graduates of technical training programs during May.

TVTC said it signed 54 agreements with several authorities during the month and implemented 136 programs to prepare graduates to enter the job market.

In addition, it held 214 meetings with human resources officials from various bodies to discuss cooperation and partnerships to attract graduates. It also distributed 594 questionnaires to measure the satisfaction of employers and 6,337 questionnaires to measure graduate satisfaction.

The center said it is working to implement several programs and initiatives to facilitate the employment of graduates. Its initiatives include the “Job Opportunity for Every Graduate” initiative, and it has established career coordination offices in affiliated universities and institutes.

TVTC holds employment exhibitions and forums at universities and institutes to link graduates and employers. In May, 141 employment forums and exhibitions were held in various regions of the Kingdom.


Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah

Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah
Updated 24 June 2024
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Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah

Ministry foils mattress scam in Makkah
  • Old mattresses were repackaged and disguised with new covers to trick consumers
  • Seized items included 1,921 mattresses, 2,700 meters of raw fabric and mattress covers, and 5 tonnes of wood, which were all destroyed

RIYADH: The Saudi Ministry of Commerce’s inspection teams in Makkah foiled an illegal operation selling used mattresses from containers and dumps as new.

Old mattresses were repackaged and disguised with new covers to trick consumers. In collaboration with security authorities, the ministry shut the facility situated east of Makkah. Additionally, inspection teams confiscated a loaded truck and handed over the individuals involved for punishment under the anti-commercial fraud system.

Seized items included 1,921 mattresses, 2,700 meters of raw fabric and mattress covers, and 5 tonnes of wood, which were all destroyed. In addition, sewing machines and other tools were seized.

The Ministry of Commerce reiterated its commitment to combating commercial fraud and enforcing legal penalties against violators. The system stipulates penalties of up to three years’ imprisonment, fines of up to SR1 million, or both, as well as publicizing the names of violators.


8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington

8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington
Updated 23 June 2024
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8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington

8th Saudi-US Trade and Investment Council Meeting held in Washington
  • Council tackles bilateral trade and investment issues, promotes market access

RIYADH: The eighth meeting of the Saudi-US Trade and Investment Framework Agreement (TIFA) Council in the United States kicked off on Sunday in Washington DC.
The Saudi delegation was led by the General Authority of Foreign Trade (GAFT), and it included 20 government entities.
The council's goal is to monitor trade and investment relations in order to identify opportunities for expansion, work on removing trade and investment barriers, improve a promising trade and investment environment, and foster economic development between the two countries.
The council tackles bilateral trade and investment issues, promotes market access, protects and enforces intellectual property rights, manages data and e-commerce, builds capacity, and reviews trade and investment policies.
The Saudi delegation is scheduled to attend several meetings and workshops on the sidelines of the meeting, which will last until Friday.
These include a workshop titled "Trade Opportunities between the Middle East and the United States," which will be attended by US ambassadors in Gulf countries, and the opening session of the Select USA Investment Summit, which will be chaired by US Commerce Secretary Gina Raimondo.
The delegation will also participate in the fifth GCC-US Trade and Investment Dialogue Forum, a panel discussion titled "Saudi Investment in Technology," the US-Saudi Forum titled "Investing in Our Shared Future," the GCC-US Roundtable, and the Saudi-US Roundtable, all of which will include private sector participation from both sides.
The trade volume between Saudi Arabia and the US in 2023 was approximately $34 billion, with mineral products and fertilizers being the most significant Saudi exports to the US, while machinery, mechanical appliances and spare parts, and automobiles and spare parts were the top US imports.


Madinah branches out with tree transplant program

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program
Updated 23 June 2024
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Madinah branches out with tree transplant program

Madinah branches out with tree transplant program
  • Relocation of trees to expand green spaces, expedite lengthy process of growth and restoration

JEDDAH: Perennial plants, with their remarkable ability to endure harsh conditions such as droughts, climatic variations, and human activities, play a crucial role in our ecosystem, providing sustenance for people and animals, and contributing to the overall well-being of the environment.

Recognizing the importance of these invaluable assets, the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has embarked on a program to relocate and care for perennial trees in the Madinah region.

In a four-month operation, some trees were moved to Al-Bayda Al-Bari Park as part of the Kingdom’s efforts toward environmental sustainability and vegetation development. (Supplied)

In a four-month operation, the center moved some trees to Al-Bayda Al-Bari Park as part of the Kingdom’s aims regarding environmental sustainability and vegetation development.

Khalid bin Saadullah Al-Saidi, representative of the general administration of grazing and the general administration of protection, supervision, and inspection of NCVC in the Madinah region, told Arab News: “The goal is to preserve the vegetation and relocate these perennial plants to maintain and care for them, achieving the desired objectives through collaboration and initiatives with environmental advocates across the Kingdom.”

HIGHLIGHT

The National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification has embarked on a program to relocate and care for perennial trees in the Madinah region.

The relocation process involves a thorough selection of trees, based on their type, size, condition, age, and benefits.

Specialists from the center use modern methods to relocate the trees, minimizing damage and ensuring survival.

The criteria used in selecting the trees depend on the type of tree, whether it is wild or cultivated, its size, condition, age, and the extent of its benefit. (Supplied)

The process involves preparing the new site, digging, and manufacturing wooden molds to hold the trees, as well as providing carriers, equipment, and special transport tractors.

Perennials, such as Acacia ehrenbergiana, the Latin thorn tree (Acacia tortilis) and the Maerua crassifolia, that obstruct projects and development lines also will be relocated.

The process of relocating trees involves preparing the new site, digging, and manufacturing wooden molds to hold the trees, as well as providing carriers, equipment, and special transport tractors. (Supplied)

“Acacia ehrenbergiana trees are important local trees in the Kingdom, characterized by their large size, numerous branches, and ability to withstand harsh climatic conditions,” Al-Saidi said.

The wild acacia tree can act as a windbreak, and also provides shade and shelter for birds, as well as sustenance for livestock. The trees can grow to a height of about nine meters, and bear yellow flowers, mostly blooming from mid-February to May. These attract grazing bees, which produce “Salim” honey.

The relocation process went smoothly, thanks to the presence of experts from the center, Al-Saidi said.

“We also acknowledge the cooperation of the Ministry of Transport branch in the region in transporting the trees on main roads, and the interest and cooperation of citizens in this initiative,” he added.

This endeavor makes a substantial contribution to conserving and enriching biodiversity in the Madinah region. Focusing on indigenous tree species, which are integral to the environment and resilient to various conditions, is essential for ensuring sustainability for both present and future generations. The relocation of these trees not only expands green spaces, but also expedites the lengthy process of growth and restoration.

Earlier, on the occasion of World Environment Day, Al-Saidi said: “It is always the duty of individuals to care for the environment and practice proper behaviors to ensure sustainability for the current and future generations.”

NCVC continues to work on such activities and initiatives throughout the year, aiming to safeguard mature and rare trees, ensuring their long-term sustainability, and enriching biodiversity and eco-tourism efforts.

The center’s efforts will lead to the preservation of a wide variety of trees across the Kingdom, promoting environmental sustainability and conservation.