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Digital defences on high alert: The critical need for Cyber Security in the region

Middle East College Cybersecurity

In today’s digitally interconnected era, the imperative of robust cyber security is more pronounced than ever, especially in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) nations, including Oman.

The escalating cyber threat landscape in Oman and the GCC

GCC countries stand at the crossroads of a digital revolution. From smart cities to booming e-commerce, our economies are increasingly built on interconnected networks. But with great advancements come heightened risks: the invisible threat of cybercrime.

The threat landscape is evolving rapidly. A whopping number of three million attempted cyberattacks in the Sultanate of Oman were thwarted in 2022, according to an annual cyber security report.

The report revealed a significant 55 per cent increase in global threat detections and a massive 242 per cent surge in blocked malicious files in the same year (Oman Observer). These attacks target not just individuals but the very heart of a nation’s critical infrastructure: energy grids, financial systems, and government networks. Cyberattacks can trigger economic havoc, disrupt vital services, and erode public trust. The 2021 attack on Aramco,Saudi Arabia’s national oil company, exposed the potential for regional destabilisation. The GCC’s growing dependence on digital technologies like cloud computing and IoT further necessitates sophisticated cyber security measures.

Taking a Proactive Stance

Recognising the gravity of the situation, the GCC has been proactive in bolstering its cyber defences. Oman ranked third best prepared in the world to thwart cyberattacks by the International Telecommunication Union, is a regional leader(ITU). Saudi Arabia was ranked second in the 2022 World Competitiveness Yearbook cybersecurity index. Initiatives like establishing the GCC Cybersecurity Ministerial Committee(SPA)showcase GCC’s resilience-building commitment.

The fight against cybercrime requires an army of skilled professionals on the frontlines, the digital soldiers safeguarding our interconnected world. The regional demand for cyber security professionals is robust. As per ISACA’s State of Cyber security report, professionals with a blend of technical and soft skills are highly sought after. The region’s cyber security market is anticipated to grow at a 5.90% CAGR from 2023 to 2028, fuelled by increasing cyber threats and massive digital transformation.

Middle East College’s MSc Cyber Security programme: A timely endeavour

In response to this burgeoning need, Middle East College, in collaboration with Coventry University, UK, has introduced the MSc Cyber Security programme. This programme prepares students for the dynamic and evolving challenges in cyber security, equipping them with practical skills and comprehensive knowledge. It is worth noting that MEC already offers an Undergraduate Engineering programme, B.Eng. (Hons) in Computer Engineering (Cybersecurity), to prepare young cybersecurity professionals.

The criticality of cyber security in Oman and the broader GCC region cannot be overstated. Educational initiatives like the undergraduate and postgraduate Cyber Security programmes at Middle East College are timely and crucial in preparing the next generation of cybersecurity experts. As they say, investing in cyber security is investing in our future.




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