Virtual #MENAISC 2020 tackles cyber resilience in the age of COVID-19

Virtual #MENAISC 2020 tackles cyber resilience in the age of COVID-19

Cybersecurity Expert, Engineer Samir Omar, CEO of Virtuport, 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.

Engineer Samir highlighted that specialized reports indicate that the value of the Saudi cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 His Highness Crown Prince 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 cybersecurity market in Saudi Arabia is expected to grow at a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 12.4% over the period between 2020-2026. In 2019, the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ranked 13th in the world in the Cybersecurity Index, with a jump that exceeded 33 places in the world in 2017.

Engineer Samir 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 5th to 6th October of this year.

The conference is sponsored by Trend Micro as its diamond sponsor and CyberKnight will be the official distribution partner. BlackBerry, CrowdStrike, Cisco, Cybereason, silensec, Splunk and VMware Carbon Black will be Platinum sponsors while, the Gold Premium sponsors are Anomali, BeyondTrust, FIREEYE, LogRhythm, Lookout and mimecast, Proofpoint, RSA, SentinelOne, Thales and tripwire. Gold Sponors of this year are ITS2, CyberX and McAfee and the silver sponsors are ARMIS, Cyberinc, EclecticIQ, FLASHPOINT, GroupIB, Seclore, stealthbits and tenable.

(ISC)2 will be the conference’s education partner. This year’s conference will culminate with a strategic alliance with the Saudi Information Security Association (Hemaya) in addition to CIAG group and int@j (The Information and Communications Technology Association of Jordan). Other sponsors include, marketing communications partner, W7Worldwide.

Cyber Threats
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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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 cybersecurity 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.

Cyber Resistance
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 is scheduled to cover “Saudi Arabia, United Arab Emirates, Kuwait, Bahrain, Oman and Egypt and Jordan” 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. Register in the conference via the link

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.