State-owned oil giant Saudi Aramco and American defense contractor Raytheon Company have formed a joint venture to develop and provide cybersecurity services within the kingdom and the region.
According to a statement, the JV – dubbed Raytheon Saudi Arabia – will “market and provide integrated defensive cybersecurity software and hardware capabilities, and perform research and development activities.” In addition, the venture will help cybersecurity measures available for Saudi Aramco and its many customers, suppliers and affiliates.
“We are excited about the joint venture which will support the Kingdom’s Vision 2030 by creating highly skilled jobs for Saudis in the cybersecurity sector and will support the foundation for Saudi Arabia’s economic development,” said Saudi Aramco Senior Vice President of Finance, Strategy & Development Khalid H. Al-Dabbagh.
“Demand for cybersecurity services is expected to grow as companies move further into the digital space and embrace technologies such as Internet of Things and big data. The partnership with Raytheon will help strengthen cybersecurity and enhance its infrastructure in Saudi Arabia and the broader region.”
The move comes as Aramco, one of the world’s largest oil companies, has repeatedly faced cyber attacks thanks to its financial strength. It faced one of its most devastating attack in 2012 when 35,000 computers were destroyed by a virus called Shamoon that erased data on the computers to replace it with something else. Although the cost that Aramco had to face due to the attack was not made public, experts billed it as high.
A variant of Shamoon was also reported to have hit the servers of Italian oil firm Saipem and another heavy engineering firm in the UAE last week, indicating that the region continued to be under the hackers’ radar.
That has made the region into a lucrative market for cyber security providers. According to Fircroft, the cyber security market in the Middle East – worth $11.4 billion – is expected to double in size by 2022.