Artificial intelligence will be one of the main focus areas of a security conference that kicks off in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday.
The third RSA conference, which will feature former MI5 director general Dame Stella Rimington, will gather around 1,000 information security professionals to discuss digital transformation, big data and smart city initiatives as the UAE becomes one of the most connected countries in the world.
"Such conferences support the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority's (TRA) vision of the UAE as a global leader in information and communications technology as well as the leadership directives in transitioning to the knowledge-based and information economy," said Hamad Al Mansoori, the authority's director general. "They also enhance a smart lifestyle in the country, in preparation for realising the UAE vision 2021."
He said cyber-security has always been a main topic of interest. "We support events that discuss security in the cyber world which [tackle] real topics that directly relate to modern trends to achieve the best response for ICT in humanity's service."
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Regional organisations are prioritising security, moving away from a reactive approach. "A lot of companies realise they need to be able to address cyber in a proactive manner to ensure any kind of transformation and vision," said Megha Kumar, research director and association partner for RSA. "The UAE has been ahead of a lot of other countries in the Middle East in terms of establishing a national electronic security authority."
Saudi Arabia recently announced plans to establish a cyber-security authority. "This highlights as to how critical security is becoming," she said. "Many organisations and governments are looking at how they can use AI for fraud detection and network monitoring, next generation firewalls, and blockchain in terms of the trust aspect for transactions. This will be very critical moving forward, especially as the nation moves into smart cities, [which require] end points in transportation, healthcare, the smart grid and utilities to be secure."
The UAE is expected to spend more than 400 million dollars in security solutions by the end of the year. It is projected to grow by seven per cent annually by 2021.
Across the Middle East, the cyber-security market is also expected to grow from 11.38 billion dollars to more than 22 billion dollars by 2021. “It’s definitely an area of growth,” said Linda Martin, general manager at RSA Conferences. “The UAE’s [connectivity] attracts cyber-criminals as it is a hotbed.”