Saudi Arabia will be hosting the world’s first Global Cybersecurity Forum (GCF) in order to address the threats, challenges, risks and cyber opportunities that would help the kingdom collaborate with the international community to “build a secure, resilient and prosperous cyber world for all”.
Being launched in the capital Riyadh on Tuesday, the event is organised and hosted by the kingdom’s National Cybersecurity Authority (NCA) under the patronage of King Salman Bin Abdulaziz, and is expected to bring together over 1,000 figures from around the world including government officials, academics and international business leaders.
Spread across two days, the conference will be centred around five prominent themes which effect the future of the cybersecurity field: the cyber industry, cyber threats and resilience, cyber culture, international cyber collaboration and cyber disruption.
Although the conference is significantly relevant to the increasing importance of cybersecurity in contemporary times, and occurs during the same year as Saudi Arabia’s hosting of the upcoming G20 Riyadh Summit in November, it is strikingly ironic given the current hacking controversy that the kingdom is embroiled in.
Over the past month, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has been accused of hacking the phone of the Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, primarily through the use of spyware sent in a WhatsApp message, in order to attain information to use as leverage on the billionaire. Following the revelation, which have been denied by Saudi, there have been concerns that other global figures and politicians could have also been compromised.
However much truth there is to the reports, Saudi Arabia has been found to use Israeli spyware on dissidents abroad and those who are critical of the monarchy, the government and its policies.
Last year it was revealed that Saudi Arabia has been a primary customer of spyware and used it to gather information on citizens, critics and dissidents, including to amass details of Saudi journalist Jamal Khashoggi in the run up to his murder in the Saudi consulate in Turkey in October 2018 used.