RIYADH STANDING FIRM AMID CYBER WAR

Have you ever realized that one thing has been unique in the past years of this 21st century compared to all other centuries? That is, since the beginning of the 21st century, the internet and technology have grown exponentially. Where communication and transportation were difficult a few centuries ago, today the Internet and technology have brought cross-border business at the tip of your fingers. It has eased the lives of billions by giving them numerous avenues to explore, connect and harvest.

But with so many benefits, we still cannot ignore how the Internet and technology have been exploited by nations to place virtual explosives in the cyber space to cripple one another. Cyber space has become the battlefield of today and a highly volatile crisis as thousands of lives and giant economies can be disintegrated with this weapon in just mere seconds. The military and technological implications of the cyberwar are graver than that of a nuclear war because the forces that prevent a nuclear deterrence fail to curb cyber wars. In cyber warfare, only might is right. And at advantage is the one that knows to use this weapon- for attack and for defense.

Nations need to invest in a well devised and implemented defense strategy because it is as important as an aggressive attack strategy. As historical relics of World War I and II advocate, one cannot sustain in the long run unless it has also figured out how to defend itself against the weapon that it has shown to the rest of the world. Thus, in order to survive the cyber war it is essential for nations to understand what cyber war is, learn how and why it works, analyze its risks, prepare for it, and plan to control it.

Realizing the gravity of impact that cyber breaches might pose to its economy and national security, the KSA government laid the foundation for the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) in 2017. NCA was formed with the underlying objective of working in coalition with the Kingdom’s public and private entities to enhance its cyber security posture and safeguarding its economic stakes, national security, critical infrastructures, high-priority sectors, and government services and activities in alignment with Vision 2030. It was entrusted with drafting the national strategy for cybersecurity and overseeing its implementation; cybersecurity frameworks, controls, and compliance; building and operating cybersecurity operation centers; developing human capabilities in cybersecurity; raising awareness on cybersecurity; stimulating growth of the cybersecurity sector and encouraging innovation and investment therein; and establishing ties with similar agencies abroad and private entities for the mutual exchange of knowledge and expertise in cybersecurity.

It is due to the relentless efforts and investments of the Crown and NCA that KSA bagged 2nd globally in Cyber Security Index within the World Competitiveness Yearbook for 2022. This ranking affirms the Saudi government’s commitment to empower the cybersecurity sector in order to steer its economy towards being a global investment and entrepreneurial hub in light of it 2030 Vision.

To further accelerate the growth of the cyber security sector, NCA has announced the launch of CyberIC- a program aimed at developing the potential of cybersecurity specialists and maintain a health cybersecurity ecosystem. Under this first phase of the project, more than 10,000 Saudis will be trained in line with international standards through courses, virtual exercises and specialized programs for chief information security officer. Moreover, the program also supports the growth of the industry by giving investment opportunities to 60 national security startups.

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