Engineer Samir Omar, Cybersecurity Expert, CEO of Virtuport has outlined two main factors that led to an increase in disruptive cyber-attacks on sensitive service sectors in the Kingdom. The first factor is government’s shift towards providing more digital services, and the second is the pivotal role Saudi Arabia plays in the energy and oil industry sectors, in addition to its participation in major political and economic events, on the international and regional levels.
Mr Omar highlighted, “The specialized reports indicate that the value of the Saudi cyber security market on the regional level by 2023 will increase to more than 21 billion riyals, as it is the most prominent sector. Additionally, investment in cyber security will be more pronounced in the energy sector, estimated at 4.6 billion riyals, while banks, financial services and insurance (BFSI) came in second place with a value of 3.8 billion riyals, accompanied by an increase in their reliance on the knowledge economy, Internet of Things and artificial intelligence, with the direct support and interest of Mohammed bin Salman, through the establishment of the Saudi Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence in addition to the National Cyber Security Authority, adding that the energy and financial sectors constitute the largest share of the market, due to the sensitivity they enjoy on the economic and investment map.”
Business Wire has also released research indicating that the cyber security market in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% over the period between 2020-2026.
Mr Omar’s comments are in line with the MENAISC Conference in its eighth edition, which will be held virtually due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, from the October 5-6 of this year.
According to the annual report issued by the Global Competitiveness Center last June of this year (2020), Saudi Arabia succeeded in achieving the second place in the world for continuous improvement in the corporate cyber security index, out of 63 countries that are the most competitive. The report also showed that the Kingdom has moved up the ranks from 26th to 24th position globally with an additional improvement in ranking, from 38th to 36th on the infrastructure front. The results came after the establishment of the National Cybersecurity Authority, which contributed to creating a safe and reliable cyberspace, enhancing the strength and durability of the Saudi economy, developing cyber security performance indicators, and stimulating its growth locally.
According to a report by Trend Micro, during the first quarter of this year, Gulf countries recorded 1737 attacks on spam, 1,114 malware threats and 216 attacks against URLs, of which, Saudi Arabia recorded 344 attacks (Covid-19), including That included 268 spam attacks, 59 malware threats and 17 URL attacks detected.
A new survey indicated that 73% of employees did not receive cyber security education while working remotely at the time this strategy was reported in Saudi Arabia. This led to fraudulent emails related to COVID-19, increased spam and connection to compromised WiFi points, and the use of (shadow) information technology by employees led to some of the threats and risks.
The poll included interviews of 6000 people around the world. It has been determined that accidentally downloading malicious content from an email could infect devices and compromise business data.
The virtual conference will be held under the title ‘Evolving From Cyber Resistance to Resilience, in the Age of Smart Cities, Digital Economy and IoT’, with the participation of more than 26 specialized international and regional experts, and targets 15 pivotal sectors, most notably: defense, financial and banking services, insurance, information technology, energy and industry, health and retail, education, building and construction, government service sectors, in addition to airports, universities, and others. The leading conference support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, and its objectives and initiatives for digital transformation and mitigating the effects of targeting its vital facilities.
The concept of ‘cyber resilience’ means the sectors preventive measures and preparedness to face the disruption of their business and recover from the effects of sabotaging attacks, by identifying and analyzing weaknesses on the internal digital environment level and addressing them proactively from potential attacks, doing so, would limit the losses of companies and financial and public institutions. Several factors played into increasing the interest and focus of different sectors in cyber resilience, including: the increase of cyber security awareness among decision makers, the steady increase in cybercrime, and the high cost of attacks.