Modern field guide to security and privacy

‘CyberArabia’ Inspires Saudi students toward careers in cybersecurity

CyberArabia was two-day cybersecurity awareness and training session hosted by Northrop Grumman for students at King Saud University aimed at building interest and attracting future cybersecurity talent.

Middle Eastern nations are, by some measures, among the hardest-hit by attackers taking advantage of cybersecurity vulnerabilities: computing devices in the Middle East are currently infected at nearly four times the global rate, according to a Strategy& analysis of Microsoft research, an imbalance that has grown worse in recent years.

“The resources of Middle East countries and their rapid adoption of digitization have made the region an attractive target for a wide array of cyber threats,” the Strategy& analysis found. “Indeed, governments and large organizations in almost every vital sector of the region have sustained damage from cyber attacks.”

One key building block for upping a nation’s cyber defenses? Defining a national talent strategy, the Strategy& research argued, including building national cybersecurity curricula at the university level, building collaboration with international organizations and convening high-level discussions about the issue to raise general awareness.  

 To play a part in building tomorrow's excellent cybersecurity talent, Northrop Grumman hosted a two-day cyber security awareness and training session called “CyberArabia” for students at King Saud University in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. The purpose of the event, held April 28-29, was to build interest and excitement for this critical, in-demand career field. 

The CyberArabia program builds on the Cyber Patriot program in the US, created by the Air Force Association and presented by the Northrop Grumman Foundation, and a similar program in the United Kingdom, sponsored by Northrop Grumman, known as CyberCenturion.

“Northrop Grumman was thrilled to host CyberArabia at King Saud University,” said Walid Abukhaled, chief executive, Northrop Grumman Saudi Arabia. “The demand for cyber defenders has never been greater and we appreciate the university’s foresight in understanding the importance of grooming future cyber talent to protect the Kingdom.”  

Students learned important cyber security principles such as encryption and account management in addition to security tools like firewalls before breaking into teams and going head-to-head in cyber defense competitions to put their newly-acquired skills to the test.

Teams were scored on how fast and thoroughly they identified and remediated cyber vulnerabilities and intrusions – similar to what a cyber defender does to protect information and networks.

“Numerous students told me their 'participation in the CyberArabia competition was a great chance to prove their skills' and that it was ‘fun participating in the competition,’” said Abir Benabid Najjar, vice head of the Software Engineering Department, in the College of Computer and Inform​ation Sciences at King Saud University. “Another student described it this way: 'The CyberArabia competition opened up a new perspective for security to us, as it was our first time working on a cyber security-related area.'"

Learning such skills could pay off for Saudi students in the not-too-distant future. The Middle East cybersecurity market is projected to grow more than 13 percent per year to reach $9.5 billion by 2019, according to investment research group Markets and Markets.

And as the market grows, so too will opportunities for young talent.

“Our workshop offered students a chance to learn about cyber defence as well as the amazing career opportunities available in cyber security,” said Diane Miller, director, CyberPatriot Programs, Northrop Grumman. “Our partnership with King Saud University facilitated a critical transfer of knowledge about cyber defense training and awareness that will help students to build the skills needed to thrive in this field.”

You've read  of  free articles. Subscribe to continue.

In addition to CyberArabia, King Saud University hosted the National Symposium on Command, Control and Cyber Security NSC3 last month. Northrop Grumman Corporation was a diamond sponsor of that event.

As a global provider of cyber security solutions, Northrop Grumman is committed to grooming tomorrow’s cyber workforce and is engaged in supporting numerous cybersecurity education, training and technology initiatives. For more information on Northrop Grumman in cyber, go to www.northropgrumman.com/cyber.

Northrop Grumman is a leading global security company providing innovative systems, products and solutions in unmanned systems, cyber, C4ISR, and logistics and modernization to government and commercial customers worldwide. Please visit www.northropgrumman.com for more information.

Dear Reader,

About a year ago, I happened upon this statement about the Monitor in the Harvard Business Review – under the charming heading of “do things that don’t interest you”:

“Many things that end up” being meaningful, writes social scientist Joseph Grenny, “have come from conference workshops, articles, or online videos that began as a chore and ended with an insight. My work in Kenya, for example, was heavily influenced by a Christian Science Monitor article I had forced myself to read 10 years earlier. Sometimes, we call things ‘boring’ simply because they lie outside the box we are currently in.”

If you were to come up with a punchline to a joke about the Monitor, that would probably be it. We’re seen as being global, fair, insightful, and perhaps a bit too earnest. We’re the bran muffin of journalism.

But you know what? We change lives. And I’m going to argue that we change lives precisely because we force open that too-small box that most human beings think they live in.

The Monitor is a peculiar little publication that’s hard for the world to figure out. We’re run by a church, but we’re not only for church members and we’re not about converting people. We’re known as being fair even as the world becomes as polarized as at any time since the newspaper’s founding in 1908.

We have a mission beyond circulation, we want to bridge divides. We’re about kicking down the door of thought everywhere and saying, “You are bigger and more capable than you realize. And we can prove it.”

If you’re looking for bran muffin journalism, you can subscribe to the Monitor for $15. You’ll get the Monitor Weekly magazine, the Monitor Daily email, and unlimited access to CSMonitor.com.