Abu Dhabi security conference sets focus to cyber threats

Security officials at an Abu Dhabi conference on Tuesday will discuss how to stay ahead of cyber threats.

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ABU DHABI // How to stay ahead of online threats and combat them will be at the heart of discussions at a cybersecurity conference that kicks off in the capital on Tuesday.

Defining a new security roadmap, the current state of electronic security, advanced threat detection and risk management are some of the topics that will be discussed by more than 1,000 security experts and officials at the two-day RSA conference.

The predominant concern for the UAE is the transition to smart cities.

“The UAE has experienced a growth of digitalisation, smart cities and smart government,” said Scott Manson, cybersecurity leader for the Middle East and Turkey at Cisco.

“We’re seeing through this innovation age a lot more need for more security and a huge amount of cybertechnology.”

He said if the UAE continued to grow and benefit from digitalisation, the way forward would be to continue to oversecure its intellectual property and key data.

Fifty sessions will tackle critical infrastructure, cybercrime and threats and analytics as well as incident response.

“As the smart city grows, more people will share data, on a personal and professional level – hence there are more concerns around security and privacy,” said Ibrahim Almallouhi, vice president of security operations at telecoms company du.

He said that cybersecurity was not only critical to the UAE, but also to the whole world.

“In the UAE, we are working with the Government to bring the country’s smart city ambitions to life,” Mr Almallouhi said. “As connectivity continues to proliferate, it is incumbent on us to ensure that data and compliance is protected the right way.”

Experts say the Middle East is rapidly recognising its level of vulnerability to cyberattacks.

“As more systems become interconnected with the internet, they can be targeted,” said Faisal Al Bannai, founder of UAE cybersecurity company DarkMatter. “The areas of concern for the region are information theft and cyberextortion, where cybercriminals are leveraging threats to disrupt or deny service if a ransom is not paid.”

Two-time Formula One champion Mika Hakkinen will speak about risk management in his sport. Hakkinen said drivers have turned to data acquisition, analysis and predictive analytics to better manage risk.

“We have developed a fully connected digital communications environment, which means that for a driver we can make better real decisions to protect ourselves.”

Linda Martin, the conference’s general manager, said one of the major drivers of technology was people’s desire to connect.

“The internet has allowed us to do that so easily, but the downside is a proliferation of attackers,” she said.

“The conference gives the region that platform to come together and share knowledge.”