The Sultanate has policies, standards and security practices to ensure the protection of electronic environment of institutions and their information assets. Hence, it is immune to any major electronic dangers and threats posed in the cyberspace. On the other hand, the country has been able to inform and alert other countries about instances of some offences detected by Omani specialists.
According to Dr Badr bin Salem al Mandhari, Director-General of Information Security of the Information Technology Authority (ITA), there is international joint cooperation at the Arab, Gulf and regional level aimed at exchange of information and experiences and also to guarantee continuous communication on the subject.
“We have advantages due to the cooperation agreements with some countries. This has helped us in reporting electronic crimes against some institutions that were discovered outside the Sultanate,” Dr Mandhari said in an interview to Al Markazi magazine.
Dr Al Mandhari believes too much reliance on information technology has resulted in a new form of weakness in society, both in the private and public lives, because cybercrime is one of the fastest-growing criminal activities in the world.
“With the Internet, it is an easy transition from the real world to the virtual world. The cyberspace has given rise to different kinds of cybercrimes, granting hackers an easy opportunity to intrude
private cyberspaces and commit crimes,” he said.
Some of these crimes include hacking, fraud, vandalism, electronic drug trafficking, manipulation of transactions and legal papers, spying on computer systems, penetrating security and military institutions, stealing databases of companies and institutions, or the destruction of existing information sites and many others.
Dr Al Mandhari said the Sultanate is immune to these electronic dangers posed in the cyberspace. “The Sultanate, like any other nation, has suffered from instances of numerous cybercrimes from inside or outside,” he told the magazine published by the Central Bank of Oman. Still, there were thousands of cyberattacks that have been exposed in the Sultanate.
According to ITA’s annual report, Oman was targeted by more than five million cyberattacks in 2015. The report said ITA’s Information Security Division had prevented more than 4.8 million attacks against government networks and more than 398,000 attacks against government portals in Oman. “However, with the efforts of ITA, the Sultanate was able to tackle all those attacks and successfully deter them,” Dr Al Mandhari added. It has also developed the framework of security designs for government networks and e-government services as well as other controls and practices. “Work is also under way on some other security standards to keep pace with developments in information security, especially in the field of smart devices,” he said.