The inaugural Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) was recently held in Riyadh and brought together 1,200 global business leaders, experts and government officials to address cyber-related issues, challenges and opportunities. Hosted under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the GCF is the first of its kind in the world which aims to facilitate multi-stakeholder global dialogue, shape conversations for creating a safer cyberworld for all and establishing the foundation for greater cyber resilience, capacity and management of the entire cyber landscape. The event is among several global conferences ahead of the G20 meeting in Riyadh later this year, which will take place under the Presidency of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Organized by the National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA), the government entity responsible for cybersecurity in Saudi Arabia, the Forum was officially opened by the Governor of the Riyadh Region, HRH Prince Faisal bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, who represented HRH Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the event. HE Eng. Abdullah Alswaha, Minister of Communications and Information Technology and Chairman of the G20 Digital Economy Task Force, announced two new global initiatives that aim to protect children in cyberspace and empower women in the cybersecurity sector. The first initiative will focus on developing best practices, policies and programs to protect children from increasing online threats while the second is about education and training for women in order to increase the talent pool and expertise in this relatively new field.
Amin Nasser, President and CEO of Saudi Aramco, was among the distinguished speakers and called for greater cybersecurity collaboration in the private and public sectors, especially with respect to developing technologies and exchanging experiences and know-how. He underlined that there is no one organization that can solely address cybersecurity risks.
Arja Talakar, Chief Executive Officer of the Siemens Oil and Gas Business Unit, delivered a keynote speech ahead of a panel session on cybersecurity frameworks, collaboration and solutions along the entire energy value chain. Talakar said, “Cybersecurity is everyone’s business, which calls for strong global collaboration”. He expressed high admiration of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and how it is driving an unparalleled transformation, especially for young people, through digitalization. “The safeguarding of data, people, companies and critical infrastructure matters to all of us and in the age of digitalization, which brings massive opportunities, we must ensure that the benefits of this transformation are accessible to everyone,” he explained. Talakar commended the proactive approach of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, not only in driving digitalization as a key lever of Vision 2030, but also for establishing the GCF as a catalyst and engaging the world’s business leaders and experts.
More connected digital devices do however mean more potential threats in a digitalized world. In 2017, there were 8.4 billion networked devices in use, which is expected to increase to 20 billion this year, and predictions are that it will pass 50 billion by 2025. Worldwide spending on cybersecurity is over USD 100 billion and will continue to increase, especially since damages that relate to cybercrime and cybersecurity breaches are projected to reach USD 6 trillion annually by next year. Furthermore, many employers confirm the scarcity of skills in the cybersecurity sector.
Digitalization and cybersecurity are two sides of the same coin and the challenges highlight the imperative to succeed together on both sides. That is why Siemens is a key partner in the Charter of Trust, as one of 16 global companies aiming to build trust in the digital world and providing the foundation for a robust framework of action towards an open, fair and successful digital future.
The Charter of Trust combines principles, objectives and joint activities to drive better and more effective cybersecurity in society. An Accenture study has indicated that third party risks in supply chains are the source of 60% of cyberattacks. The Charter of Trust partners have therefore agreed on minimum cybersecurity requirements in the supply chain – a very powerful way to leverage cyber security in increasingly digital markets.
Siemens Saudi Arabia
Business Gate, Building C1
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In addition, the Charter of Trust partners have agreed that next-generation products will increasingly be equipped with pre-configured security, following the strict "Security by Default" philosophy. At present, there are no uniform regulations in this area. Education and training on cybersecurity, especially for vulnerable small and medium-sized enterprises are also among the joint initiatives emerging from the Charter.
These efforts and those of other stakeholders such as the World Economic Forum’s “Center for Cybersecurity” are forming the path of collaboration and joint action, which will enable new opportunities through digitalization while simultaneously strengthening the cyber resilience of diverse industries and society.