The World’s Biggest Oil Exporters Installs New Cybersecurity Command

The monarchy of Saudi Arabia has set up a new authority to oversee and strengthen its cybersecurity posture.

The National Authority for Cybersecurity is Saudi Arabia’s new authority for cybersecurity and will be tasked toward strengthening and safeguarding the country’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

The authority was established by a royal decree and sees its new chairman in Musaed al-Aiban, the minister of state. The move is notable at a time when multiple governments around the world are waking up to the threat of cybercriminals infiltrating critical information networks and even critical infrastructure like the nuclear and power grid.

According to Reuters, the National Authority for Cyber Security will comprise of the head of state security, the head of intelligence, the deputy interior minister and assistant to the minister of defense.

Linked to the King of Saudi Arabia, the authority will “boost cyber security of the state, protect its vital interests, national security and sensitive information.” Further, the newly established authority will also improve protection of its data networks, information technology systems used in the country as well as data stored in hardware.

A frequent target of cyber attacks, Saudi Arabia went on alert earlier this year with the breakout of the Shamoon virus. The region’s labor ministry was attacked by the virus, which cripples computers and productivity by wiping out hard drives entirely, alongside a chemicals firm that reported a network disruption due to the virus. In 2012, Saudi Aramco, the world’s largest oil company, was hit by the virus leading to the most high-profile cyberattack to strike Saudi Arabia yet.

Citing a study released by the Open Data Institute, Saudi Arabia’s minister of telecommunications and information technology Abdulla bin Amer Al Sawaha has previously warned that the region loses up to 0.5% of its GDP in lost economic opportunities due to lax cybersecurity.

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