In a bid to protect itself from cyber threats, Qatar is helping to finance the construction of a new Gulf internet cable network, the Financial Times reports.
The fiber optic network, which the newspaper said is expected to go online next week, will offer Gulf telecom companies a new web traffic route to Europe, where many popular websites are hosted. Passing through Iraq and Turkey, it would also help keep connectivity going if anything happens to cables running through the Strait of Hormuz, a focal point of tensions with Iran.
Ahmed Mekki, chief executive of Gulf Bridge International, the company behind the new cabling system, says its route through Iraq and Turkey gives “shorter access to Europe and a continuity of service even if there is a cut in the Red Sea.”
Analysts say the initiative will also help boost technical security in the region. Qatar, whose sovereign wealth fund joins Kuwait’s in the funding of this project, has been listed as an especially vulnerable target for cybercrime this year, a recent Symantec report found.
“In 2013, we foresee a continued increase in spam activity, as well as a steady rise in targeted attacks in Qatar with financial and political motivation,” Justin Doo, Symantec’s MENA cloud and security practices director, said in January.
Indeed, just last week, hackers loyal to embattled Syrian president Bashar Al Assad hijacked the social media accounts of Qatar Foundation in retaliation for the country’s support of the opposition. For several hours, the Syrian Electronic Army posted insults and offensive messages to thousands of people before being taken offline.
Credit: Graphic courtesy of GBI