Measures sought to protect top Saudi officials from hackers

Most government officials do not report that their accounts have been hacked as it may point to their failure in protecting their own accounts

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In a growingly connected world, specialists have urged the Communications and Information Technology Commission (CITC) to set up a special department to protect top Saudi officials from cyber attacks.

Hackers, who may infiltrate personal accounts and smartphones as a prank or in search of sensitive material of these top officials, need to be countered.

Sources said that Saudi officials are vulnerable to hacker attacks and asked the CITC to set up certain mechanisms to protect the cyber world of high-level Saudi officials, whether they were civilian officials, Shoura Council members, or military personnel, Al-Hayat daily reported.

Recently news of Iranian hackers, who were trying to spy on Saudi and American officials, was highlighted and the CITC spokesman, Sultan Al-Malik, said that the commission will provide whatever support needed to any government body.

He advised officials to protect their accounts with all the security that social networking sites offer to prevent any hacking attempt, which is considered information crimes that are punishable according to the information crime laws.

Member of the communications and technical information committee at the Shoura Council, Mustafa Al-Edresee, said that hacking officials’ accounts could originate locally, which subjects the offender to prison and fines penalties.

He added that if hacking originates from outside the country, it is difficult to locate, which increases the burden on the CITC to protect Internet users in general and officials in particular.

Information technology specialist Haytham Abu Aishah said there are no controls to protect the accounts of high-level government officials and they have to take the necessary steps to protect their accounts.

He noted that most government officials do not report that their accounts have been hacked as it may point to their failure in protecting their own accounts.

IT consultant Mohammad Al-Shammari said that the proposed electronic security commission will play a great role in protecting Internet users in the Kingdom, whose numbers are on the increase.

He pointed out that until such a commission is set up, the CITC should implement regulations to address citizens’ problems on the Internet. He noted that most wars are conducted electronically nowadays.

Meanwhile, the media have published that Iranian hackers have for years conducted campaigns to spy on Saudi, American and other countries’ officials.

These hackers have set up fake accounts on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter carrying the names of bogus people and claim that they work in the media.

This article was first published in the Saudi Gazette on June 10, 2014.