Saudi National Cybersecurity Authority launches anti cyberbullying initiative

Organisation also unveils a programme to empower women working in the industry

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Saudi Arabia’s National Cybersecurity Authority launched two global programmes focused on children and women at the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh on Tuesday.

The first initiative is aimed at protecting children from cyberbullying while the second will focus on female empowerment in the field of cybersecurity, said Abdullah Alswaha, Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Chair of G20 Digital Economy Task Force.

“The first is so close to our heart, it is about providing safe cyberspace to kids with zero scope for cyberbullying and harassment. Under this initiative, we will be reaching as many kids as possible,” said Mr Alswaha, while announcing the programme.

“If you want to talk about [realising] economic growth — you have to double down your efforts on youth and women and that’s why we are launching the largest women empowerment initiative in cyber security.”

The second initiative will propel the presence of women in cybersecurity industry, said Mr Alswaha, but he did not disclose details about the new programmes.

The two-day Global Cybersecurity Forum, which started on Tuesday, is hosting policymakers, businesses, venture capitalists and other organisations to discuss the world’s collective response to cybersecurity threats.

“The constantly evolving threat landscape requires intensified global co-operation on cybersecurity,” said Musaad bin Muhammed Al Aiban, kingdom’s Minister of State and Member of the Council of Ministers

Globally, cybercrime is expected to cost $6 trillion (Dh22.02tn) by 2021, said researcher Cybersecurity Ventures. The overall cybersecurity market is valued more than $120 billion and is predicted to reach $300bn over the next five years, US-based Global Market Insights revealed in a report published last year.

Saudi Arabia, Arab world’s largest economy, is steadily increasing its cybersecurity capabilities and is currently the most secure state among the Arab nations.

It was ranked 13th globally out of 175 countries in the global cybersecurity index issued by the UN-backed International Telecommunication Union in 2018. Its cybersecurity budget is growing at a compound annual growth rate of 15.3 per cent and is expected to have a market value of $5.1bn by 2022.

Saudi Aramco, the world’s biggest oil-producing company, emphasised on greater efforts to enhance regional cybersecurity collaboration and international cyber-deterrence.

The company’s president and chief executive Amin H Nasser proposed a more realistic and inclusive strategy to promote effective industry collaboration on cybersecurity.

“Aligning cybersecurity policy, collaborating on technology and sharing information and experience beyond the fence, is non-negotiable,” said Mr Nasser, adding that company fences and national boundaries are meaningless concepts in this domain.

He said no institution can face cyber risks alone, adding that significant co-operation and partnership were required among all relevant stakeholders.

“Cybersecurity is one of the top corporate risks we address in our enterprise risk management programme and is a personal priority for me.”

More than 1,200 participants — including executives from global tech giants such as Microsoft, IBM and FireEye — from nearly 60 countries are attending the Global Cybersecurity forum, which is taking place during the kingdom’s G20 presidency year.

Attendees testing their cyber threat management skills at a special corner called ‘Cyber Cube’ at the Global Cybersecurity Forum at Riyadh's Ritz Carlton hotel on Tuesday. Alkesh Sharma / The National
Attendees testing their cyber threat management skills at a special corner called ‘Cyber Cube’ at the Global Cybersecurity Forum at Riyadh's Ritz Carlton hotel on Tuesday. Alkesh Sharma / The National

Besides testing their cyber threat management skills at a ‘Cyber Cube’ display, participants discussed how the issues under the forum’s five themes — cybersecurity industry, international cyber collaboration, cyber culture, cyber disruption and cyber threats and resilience — should be understood and what responses need to be developed.

The GCF is encouraging global leaders to take meaningful actions to effectively protect the world’s economies and make cyberspace safer for all, Mr Aiban added.