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Hind Al Soulia - Riyadh - MANAMA — Information Technology expert Yaqoob Al Awadhi stressed the importance of the decision taken at the meeting held remotely, of the GCC eGovernment Ministerial Committee meeting, which was launching “Cybersecurity Platform for Analyzing Malware”.
This is a joint project prepared by the GCC Committee of the National Centers for Computer Emergency Response Team to strengthen information security, protect vital sectors, and supports digital transformation efforts in Bahrain and GCC states.
He asserted the significance of this initiative in facing threats that are constantly escalating in view of the development of malware attacks, electronic warfare attacks, and internet hackers who impersonate companies, institutions, and organizations on the Internet.
"The governmental institutions that oversee the infrastructure and public services sector, in addition to banks and financial institutions, are the driving force for development and economic successes in the GCC.
“Therefore, the information security of these institutions and the stability of their performance is critical. It additionally requires what might be called a ‘cyber vigilance,’ especially with the acceleration of the digital transformation in Bahrain and GCC states," Al Awadhi said.
He pointed out that many studies confirm that 50% of cyberattacks in the Middle East region in general target the oil and gas sectors, confirming that the cybersecurity market in the Middle East is expected to grow at an annual rate of 22.5% between 2018 and 2024, according to Honeywell, America's top company in the field of sophisticated technology.
Al Awadhi, CEO of NGN International, considered that the richness of the Gulf region with wealth and the presence of active infrastructure and large financial, industrial institutions made it always the target of online attacks.
He added that it was evident the importance of adopting a proactive approach in detecting, monitoring, preventing and eliminating any cyber-attacks, and that investing in cybersecurity solutions has become essential for diverse types of organizations and institutions in the public and private sectors.
"We are attentively watching the growth of malware attacks and cybercrime activities around the world, and even increasing accusations between countries trying to steal information about the development of COVID-19 vaccines. Experts also fear the escalation of cyber-attacks, especially against energy companies and financial and investment centers in our Gulf region," Al Awadhi added.
He confirmed that there is an urgent need for GCC to develop a policy of electronic defense, exchanging experiences, and conducting exercises concerned with raising the efficiency of GCC in this field, to provide the necessary protection for sensitive data and information related to GCC states.
"Joint Gulf initiatives in the field of cybersecurity, contribute to advancing the position of Arab countries in the rankings of the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI), issued by the United Nations International Telecommunication Union, which measures the efficiency of practices and tools used by countries to protect systems and networks against cyberattacks," Al Awadhi explained.
On various occasions, Al Awadhi confirmed the importance of uniting efforts between GCC states to repel systematic cyber-attacks targeting the infrastructure of oil companies in particular, energy, water, and banking sectors, in general, requiring the formation of what might be called "Cyber Defense shield" between those countries, especially in light of escalating tensions in the region and turning the Internet and information systems into an open arena for conflict. — SG
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