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Saudi Arabia repels cyber-attacks | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Screen-grab of Saudi Interior Ministry’s website taken on May 18, 2013. (AAA)

Screen-grab of Saudi Interior Ministry's website taken on May 18, 2013. (AAA)

Screen-grab of Saudi Interior Ministry’s website taken on May 18, 2013. (AAA)

London, Asharq Al-Awsat—A number of Saudi Arabian government websites were subject to a series of “coordinated and simultaneous attacks” by unknown hackers over the past few days, Asharq Al-Awsat has learnt.

An investigation traced the “coordinated and simultaneous attacks” to hundreds of Internet protocol addresses in a number of countries, an unnamed source at the Saudi Interior Minister told the Saudi Press Agency (SPA).

An informed source, speaking to Asharq Al-Awsat on the condition of anonymity, emphasized that the security of the government websites had not been penetrated, as the perpetrators of the attack claimed on social networking websites. He emphasized that the websites—including that of the Interior Minister—had crashed after receiving thousands of service requests as part of a denial-of-service (Dos) attack.

Saudi Information Minister, Abdel Aziz Khoja, stressed that cyber-attacks against government websites represents a violation of national security.

Khoja told Asharq Al-Awsat that “hacking private or state-owned websites is punishable by the law and those responsible for this will be uncovered, sooner or later.”

He added that cyber-crime is “morally unacceptable,” adding that “perpetrators will be punished to the fullest extent of the law.”

The Information Minister also informed Asharq Al-Awsat: “We urge the youth to realize that messages should be conveyed on an ethical and moral basis.”

He stressed that “for those who want to send a message, they have the freedom to do this,” adding, “courage is putting forward your demands in the appropriate and legitimate manner.”

The Saudi Interior Ministry revealed that its official website was offline for more than one hour on Wednesday after being subject to a Dos attack.

After checking and analyzing the data, the team of experts managed to trace the attacks to hundreds of internet protocol addresses in a number of countries. After carrying out the “required technical tasks” to counter the attack, the interior ministry website was back online at 5:58 p.m.

The cybercrime law adopted by Saudi Arabia three years ago punishes “those who set up websites that support terrorist organizations, or provide access to any equipment used in terrorist attacks. The law also punishes illegal access of data that violate domestic security and the national economy.” The maximum punishment of this crime is 10 years imprisonment and a fine of SAR 5 million.