ME businesses 'must be alert on cyber attacks'
Manama, March 3, 2013
Businesses in the region need to be alert about the possibility of becoming targets of cyber attacks, a leading Internet security expert has warned.
According to International Institute for Strategic Studies (IISS) senior fellow for cyber security Dr Eneken Tikk-Ringas, in August last year Saudi Aramco was hit by a computer virus that spread across its network.
"The deployment of the 'Shamoon' computer virus against Saudi Aramco last year was an important new development in international cyber conflict," Dr Tikk-Ringas said while addressing a discussion at the IISS' Middle East office in Manama.
"The incident must put all providers of critical services on alert and requires concerted action by governments and private enterprises.
"The Shamoon malware also raises several strategic, legal and policy issues for the industry, the region and the international cyber security communities," she said.
Going by reports on the incident, it may have taken Aramco almost two weeks to fully restore its network and recover from the disruption of its daily business operations caused by data loss and disabled workstations.
US accusations of Iranian involvement in the attack have also raised serious questions about the pursuit of national interests via state or proxy actors.
Examining the Shamoon incident, its strategic implications and relevant international cyber policy developments, Dr Tikk-Ringas said developing working public-private partnerships is a challenging task.
"It requires very careful consideration by governments of relevant business goals and processes as well as appreciation of the governmental threat assessment logic and the required supervisory steps by the private sector," she said.
"Amidst the current geopolitics dynamics in the Gulf, this incident raises alarming concerns over cross-border cyber threats targeting critical infrastructure. It signifies the need for more effective Internet security norms and sustainable confidence-building measures," Dr Tikk-Ringas said.
Norton has reported that cyber attacks of all kinds cost the global economy more than $338 billion a year. Cyber attacks are one of the top five global risks likely to impact the planet over the coming years, according to the latest report from the World Economic Forum.-TradeArabia News Service