Thales eSecurity News Release

Thales security upgrade for Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency ensures region remains at the forefront of secure electronic payments

Digital signatures and smart cards protect SAMA's banking community from information theft

Thales UK , leader in information and communication systems security, today announced that it has completed a security upgrade of the SARIE payment system in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia . Under the contract awarded by the Saudi Arabian Monetary Agency (SAMA), Thales provided the end-to-end security components for the SARIE RTGS (real-time gross settlement) system which protects the 14 trillion Saudi Riyal (US$3.7 trillion) payment trans­ac­tions made in the Kingdom every year. The project has been delivered through ITS ( International Turnkey System) , Thales's channel partner in the region.

Thales's security upgrade secures SARIE payments with the latest encryption and digital sig­nature techniques. The security techniques are aligned with the latest international banking standards to ensure that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia maintains its reputation for having the most progressive and secure RTGS payments infrastructure in the region.

SAMA has worked with Thales for over 10 years and this latest security upgrade sees Thales providing further security enhancements for the SARIE system. Thales has replaced the existing key management system with a solution compatible with the SAMA PKI (public key infrastructure) gateway, while the Thales WebSentry provides SAMA's employees with crypt­ographic functions such as secure log-on, encryption and message authentication.

Thales has also enhanced the standard Thales Host Security Module (HSM 8000) platform so it can be used with digital certificates issued by the SAMA e-Trust Gateway for generation and verification of digital signatures. Digital signatures are combined with smart cards to secure access and secure Interbank payments, guaranteeing non-repudiation . This protects SAMA's banking community from information theft through secure exchange and storage of digital data.

Saqer Al Harthi, Security & Control Manager, Banking Technology Department, Saudi Arab­ian Monetary Agency, comments: “Thales provides the security infrastructure not only for our SARIE system, but also for SPAN - our national network for all payment card and credit card transactions at ATMs and points-of-sale. Given our long-term working relationship and Thales's expertise and experience in security solutions, the company was the natural choice for our SARIE security upgrade. This latest upgrade means that Saudi Arabia 's national banks are benefiting from the most advanced encryption techniques available to secure high and low value same-day and forward-dated payments as well as direct debits.”

Paul Meadowcroft, head of enterprise and government of Thales Information Systems Security, says : “ SARIE has revolutionised electronic banking in the Kingdom becoming a major and essential component of the banking infrastructure. Through the security up­grade, the SAMA SARIE keys and certificates will now be managed through a PKI enabling SAMA to maintain a trustworthy networking environment. The Thales upgrade of the SAMA SARIE network ensures the region remains at the forefront of secure payments systems.”