RIYADH, November 1, 2017 – Saudi Arabia has set up a new authority for cyber security to boost the security of the state, protect its vital interests, national security and sensitive infrastructure.
Established through a Royal Order by King Salman, the new Authority for Cyber Security will headed by Minister of State Dr. Musaed Al Aiban, who has been designated Chairman of the board of Directors of the authority, according to the official Saudi Press Agency.
The establishment, made up of the head of state security, the head of intelligence, the deputy interior minister and assistant to the minister of defence, will be directly linked to the King. The authority will enhance the protection of networks, IT systems, operating systems, hardware and software components, and data and services, due to“the increasingly vital importance of cybersecurity in the lives of communities,” Al Aiban said.
It also aims to create a national cybersecurity industry to establish the Kingdom’s leadership in this area in line with Vision 2030.
Al Aiban said the authority “will prioritize attracting, qualifying and empowering qualified national cadres, building partnerships with public and private entities and stimulating innovation and investment in cybersecurity to contribute to achieving a technological renaissance that serves the future of the national economy”.
The increasing cyber-security threat has pushed the Kingdom to give greater consideration to its national cyber security strategy as the country embarks on its Vision 2030 plan, which aims to diversify its economy. Technology will play a crucial role in facilitating the vision and the digitisation of almost all government data will inevitably make it more vulnerable to cybercriminals.
The latest move comes on the heels of the government establishing the Saudi National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) in February this year.
Saleh Ibrahim Al Motairi, Director General of the NCSC, had said that Saudi Arabia had suffered almost 1,000 cyberattacks last year, with targets including infrastructure and intellectual property.
Ransomware is the most common type of cyberattack in the Kingdom and across the region. In November 2016, a cyberattack disabled thousands of computers across multiple ministries in Saudi Arabia . The attackers used the same malware in 2012 to launch an attack against Saudi Aramco, which destroyed thousands of computers within hours.
The region, home to almost half of global oil reserves and much of its natural gas, is a magnet for some of the world’s costliest cyberattacks, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP said in a March 2016 report. The threat is set to grow. Globally, there were 430 million new malware variants discovered in 2015, a 36 percent increase from the previous year.