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Privacy should be top priority of cyber security, experts say in Saudi-led webinar

JEDDAH: The privacy of individuals and organizations should be at the heart of all cyber security services, experts told a Saudi-led webinar.

The panelists at the virtual meeting, held under the umbrella of King Saud University and conducted by the Saudi Association for Social Studies (SSSS), discussed the role of the public and private sectors in predicting the future of public services.

The three-hour seminar was moderated by Dr. Abeer Rasheed, Deputy Dean of the Preparatory and Supporting Studies Year at Imam Abdulrahman bin Faisal University, and attended by delegates including Dr. Dr. Fahad Al-Odayani, Vice Dean for Development of the Faculty of Informatics and Information Technology at the Rabigh Campus of King Abdul Aziz University (KAU), Dr. Ghayda Al-Juwaiser, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Media and Communication at KAU and Dr. Bandar Al-Asiri, general supervisor at the Ministry of Education.

Speaking about cyber security and its role in the digitalization of the Saudi family, Al-Odayani noted that the goal was to preserve software, electronic applications and protect human and financial resources.

It also aims to fight cybercrime or reduce its impact to the lowest possible level. Cyber ​​security has become a weapon in the hands of governments and individuals. It is one of the modern warfare techniques used by countries. Cyber ​​security also helps transfer big data securely, he said.

He gave an example of serious piracy efforts on a Saudi key site and found that the Absher Home Office website had been targeted more than 100 times. None of the attempts had been successful.

We would like to thank the Ministry of Interior for bringing such powerful platforms and applications. Absher is one of the best apps. It has become 100 percent secure to ensure that the data and information of citizens and residents are secure, Al-Odayani added.

Al-Asiri told Arab News: The information about Absher is accurate, but it is not surprising, as attacks on all applications and companies occur from time to time.

However, it is the end that matters. The Absher application and the National Cyber ​​Security Center (NCSC) are very capable of blocking such efforts.

He pointed out that some businesses and large commercial organizations were forced to go bankrupt due to cyber attacks.

The Saudi government was aware of these risks of cyber attacks and that is why we have two essential cyber security agencies the National Cyber ​​Security Authority and the Saudi Federation for Cyber ​​Security and Programming. These facts make us confident that our data is in safe hands. They also make us focus more on imposing digital security on individuals, he added.

Panelists at the webinar discussed the definition of cyber security and how it meant different things to different people.

Al-Odayani said that there were some definitions for cyber security, but most people specialized in this field defined it as the procedures of protecting the technological resources of a certain country or community.

For example, all ministries should have fully secured pages for the big data they contain. This makes them an invaluable treasure for criminal hackers. Cyber ​​security is there to store these resources, he added.

He noted that the Sony PlayStation Network was attacked in 2011, and the company had done its best to regain the trust of its customers after their data was exposed. Security is more important than the programs and software themselves.

Al-Odayani said privacy was fully respected in Saudi Arabia, but internet users should not share their information with everyone.

There is an international law regarding privacy. Article 12 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights states that no one shall be subjected to arbitrary interference with his privacy, family, home or correspondence, nor to attacks upon his honor and reputation. Everyone has the right to the protection of the law against such interference or attacks.

He defined digital security as the effective and optimal use of the Internet without being exposed to the risk or threat of invasion of privacy.

Al-Juwaiser highlighted the challenges faced by the digitalisation of Saudi families, citing examples such as Absher, Najiz, family identity cards, Madrasati and digital clinics.

We really need to conduct studies on how families view their children using the internet. Some families reject all types of digitalization, while others are completely with this move. Meanwhile, other families are able to create some sort of balance between the two parties, she said.

Some families cannot afford the cost of electronic devices to learn at home, something that can depressively affect their children’s performance. Furthermore, children are subject to cyberbullying when browsing the internet, Al-Juwaiser added.

Dr. Theeb Al-Dosari, a webinar participant, asked Al-Asiri how parents could make their children more aware of questionable sources of information.

School curricula can help our children learn how to obtain information from authentic sources. That way, such rumors will not affect them, Al-Asiri said.

Such fears are justified; as some parents are technologically illiterate but fortunately the younger generation is doing well in handling the Ministry of Education Madrasati application and families have started to show how much they are enjoying the educational platforms.

He warned that people should not allow their fears to get the best of them to the point where they avoid digitalisation that would only lead to digital illiteracy.

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