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Oman third best prepared in world to thwart cyber attacks

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Muscat: Oman is ranked third in the world for countries best prepared for cyber attacks, according to the Global Cybersecurity Index.

Oman came in behind the USA, Canada, and shared third place with Australia and Malaysia. Qatar was the next strongest Arab country, with an 8th place ranking. The index was created by International Telecommunication Union and ABI Research.

In the report Oman was cited as a country with some of the best organisational practices thanks to its High Level Cyber Security Strategy and Master Plan, and Comprehensive Roadmap. Its strengths include the organisational structure, legal measures, capacity building, technical and procedural measures, and regional and international cooperation.

“This could be true because of the role of Oman ITA (Information Technology Authority) and their continuous investment in cybersecurity,” said Zaid Rufaie, from Fireware, a local IT security company.

The Oman Computer Emergency Readiness Team (OCERT) was launched in 2010 to study cyber threats and risks that could harm both public and private internet users in Oman.

According to the report Oman is very active in the field of cyber security and has continuous audits and checks. It also compares itself to other countries to see how well-prepared it is.

“Oman also has an agreement with Ernst and Young to conduct a benchmark exercise under the Global Information Security Survey (GISS). The GISS provides organisation with an opportunity to compare themselves with others on important information security issues and gain insights for making key decisions through questions relates to security budget, investments, security governance, security effectiveness, maturity of security programs, security environment, and emerging technologies and trends,” reads the report.

Oman is also doing well regarding IT security education, as the OCERT is working closely with Ministry of Education to introduce Information Security Curriculum in schools. Oman also has about 350 public sector professionals certified under internationally recognized certification programs in cybersecurity, the report stated.

Oman also has over 10 partnerships with countries and organisations to facilitate sharing cybersecurity assets, and it has participated in numerous international conferences on cybersecurity, even hosting number of them itself.

At the International Telecommunication Union’s (ITU) Arab Regional Cyber Security Center in Muscat in March, Dr. Salim Sultan Al Ruzaiqi, CEO of the Information Technology Authority (ITA) spoke about the importance of being prepared for cyber attacks, which can have devastating, costly effects.

“Statistics show cybercrimes cost the world’s economy around $445 billion every year and $150 billion for the loss of personal information such as stolen credit card information,” Al Ruzaiqi said, adding that in 2014 the Kaspersky Antivirus Company reported that it deflected 6.2 billion viruses on the PCs and smartphones, one billion more than in 2013.

In an interview with Times of Oman in February, Rajat Mohanty, CEO of Paladion Networks Private Limited, a Bangalore-based IT company that specialises in protecting information, said cyber attacks on information or infrastructure are becoming more sophisticated and harder to defend against, too. Fixed defence systems no longer work well and instead the focus is on increase monitoring for potential threats.

"Information Security threats are global in nature. Any company today can get hit, whether by internal or external people," Mohanty said.