State oil giant Saudi Aramco has signed a memorandum with US defence contractor Raytheon to establish a cyber security joint venture in the kingdom.
The new company will provide marketing and security services for ‘integrated defence cyber security products’ and research and development covering Saudi Arabia, the Middle East and North Africa.
Aramco said the venture would boost its own cyber security capabilities as well as those of its suppliers, customers and subsidiaries.
The business, which Raytheon is establishing through local unit Raytheon Arab Saudi, is expected to provide jobs for Saudi nationals and boost the kingdom’s cyber defences.
The new business “will be the cornerstone of the reliability of cybersecurity services in the region” said Dave Weigras, president of Raytheon Information Security Services.
Aramco was famously hit by one of the most devastating cyber attacks of all time in 2012 when tens of thousands of computers were infected by the Shamoon virus.
Following this, a number of government organisations were also hit by a second variant of the virus in January 2017.
These included the labour ministry, which was unable to renew or transfer residence permits from some offices for weeks after, according to reports.
In November 2017, the kingdom established the National Cyber Security Authority, which said in September it would train 800 specialists under the first year of a programme to improve its cyber defences.