Riyadh is emerging as a regional cybercrime-fighting hub.
The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has one the highest internet penetration rates in the world, and thus won’t be overlooking any cyber-related risks. Following a summit held in February 2017 bringing together 600 experts, 200 cyber defense and IT system security experts met again in April of the same year in Riyadh, in order to discuss new risks encountered. The capital is emerging as a regional cybercrime-fighting hub.
A connected and ‘mobile-first’ Saudi Arabia:
- 86% of Saudis go online every day (Consumer Barometer with Google)
- 83% of Saudi consumers go online to find information (Consumer Barometer with Google/ Think with Google)
- 86% of Saudis used smartphones in 2015 (against 60% in 2012). The rate for under-25s is 94%. Accordingly, computer use has dropped from 71% in 2012 to 54% in 2015 (Consumer Barometer with Google)
- The average number of connected devices is 2.3 per user (Consumer Barometer with Google)
Saudi Internet users attract fraud:
- In 2015, Saudi Arabia fell prey to over 60 million cyber attacks, some 164,000 per day (National Center for Cybersecurity)
- 18% of attacks were successful (National Center for Cybersecurity)
- Saudi Arabia ranks 20th in the list of most targeted countries (the first being the United States) (Symantec)
Riyadh an Established Regional Hub to Combat Cyber Attacks
One of the main threats against the Kingdom is the virus Shamoon:
- In 2012 Shamoon attacked several companies in Saudi Arabia. Petrol firm Aramco lost data on over 35,000 computers
- In August 2016, after four years of absence, the virus reappeared as Shamoon 2 (an updated version) attacking many private-sector firms and public entities, including a department in the Ministry of Labor
In February 2017, Saudi Minister of Interior, represented by the National Cybersecurity Center (NCSC) organised the second International Cyber Security Conference.
- 600 experts and representatives of the Kingdom’s critical infrastructure were present
According to Dr Abbad Alabbad, the Executive Director of Strategic Development & Communication at NCSC, one of the main goals of the conference was the “facilitation of cooperation on the national, regional and international level, between government, industry and critical infrastructure”.
In April 2017, the 4th Annual Kingdom Cyber Security Meeting was held. The event, which was organized by private infrastructures specialized in cyber security, convened officials from the private and public sector. Among notable participants was Ambassador for Cybersecurity of the Spanish Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Ricardo Mor Sola.