Muscat: Oman's digital economy received a boost yesterday with the launch of the Regional Cyber Security Centre (RCSC) for the Arab region.
The first International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Centre will be instrumental in providing assistance to Arab countries, helping them to establish national cyber-security centres and assisting them with cyber services at a regional and international level.
In cooperation with ITU and IMPACT, the executive arm of ITU's cyber-security initiatives, the RCSC will assist in capacity building, boost the cyber defence preparedness of regional countries, help in setting up Computer Emergency Readiness Teams, and assist with the adoption of the ITU Global Security Agenda framework.
Speaking on the sidelines of the RCSC launch yesterday at Knowledge Oasis Muscat, Salem Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of Information Technology Authority (ITA), said the focus would be on building capacities and fostering collaboration between countries. However, each country will maintain its hegemony over managing its own sensitive data, he stated.
Help at hand
"The Centre will extend its services, enhance cyber-security capacity and capabilities, and will cooperate on cyber-security issues," Al Ruzaiqi informed.
Recognising the benefit to the Arab region from the RCSC, Al Ruzaiqi said, "The Regional Cyber Security Centre will open up opportunities for Arab countries to benefit from the knowledge of cyber security in the Sultanate and ITU/IMPACT's technical or procedural services and valuable expertise in the cyber-security field.
The Centre will provide assistance to Arab countries to establish national cyber-security centres and will help them gain international recognition, giving them the opportunity to enjoy greater benefits from the services provided by the Regional Centre, in cooperation with ITU and IMPACT."
The RCSC will host and share several security-training scholarships, cyber security-related information, expertise, cyber drills, and security-readiness assessments and exercises with countries in the region.
"Oman has witnessed the staging of at least 40,000 attacks in the last year alone, which include phishing, malware attacks, and the hacking of government and private websites by groups such as Anonymous and other hackers who normally work in collaboration," Al Ruzaiqi said, adding, "so far, we have been successful in thwarting most attacks directed at Oman."
Ruzaiqi highlighted the readiness of the RCSC by pointing out the attempts of hackers to infiltrate ITA servers when the centre was formally opened. "These hackers probably know that there is some kind of activity in the region and are probably trying to gather information, but their attempts have been thwarted," he said. "The RCSC will work in close cooperation with the Oman National Computer Emergency Readiness Team (OCERT)," he remarked.
"The government of Oman has welcomed the centre, and it trusts that this step will further contribute towards enhancing e-government initiatives," stated Badar Ali Al Salihi, director of OCERT and RCSC.
The RCSC is based in the ITA headquarters, located in the KOM3 building at Knowledge Oasis Muscat.