Tough times ahead for the Saudi government's IT officers.

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Over a third of attempted cyber attacks that have occurred in Saudi Arabia during the past year were against government websites.

According to a new report from the National Electronic Security Centre, 39% of hacking attempts from outside the kingdom targeted the websites of several governmental institutions.

Abbad Al Abbad, the centre’s strategy director, said to Arabic daily Al-Hayat: “Data for the past one year showed the most targeted websites by hackers abroad belonged to the public sector.”

“[Hackers] have accessed different websites through email proxies. The kingdom has detected these breaches and alerted the affected sectors and their directorates,” he further commented.

Media websites represented the second most targeted sector by foreign hackers which accounted for around 23% of cyber attack attempts. The report also found that telecom and information came third with 15% followed by utilities at 8%.

The Saudi authorities issued different statements urging all government departments to talk all possible precautionary measures.

“A hacker first gathers information on the targeted website and its directorate and then works on decoding passwords,” said Al Abbad.

“The weakest passwords are the easiest to decode. He or she then uploads fishing files to the targeted website.The hacker is thus able to gather important information on all users and use this information for his or her own benefit.”