Local cybersecurity experts needed to meet growing threat

More Emirati cyber-security experts are needed for the country to take full advantage of available technology, experts say.

ABU DHABI // More Emirati cyber-security experts are needed for the country to take full advantage of available technology, experts say.

“We don’t have enough experts in all of the areas we need them,” said Noura Al Suwaidi, manager at the National Electronic Security Authority.

Ms Al Suwaidi said that until that need was met, the UAE’s efforts to become a leader in technology leave it more exposed to a growing “threat landscape”.

“Adoption of the latest technological trends – like cloud computing, wearable devices, automating systems and processes – they bring risks,” she said.

“We don’t want to stop the adoption of technology. We want to make sure our cyber-security experts and critical sectors are taking a risk-based approach.”

Raytheon’s UAE leader Chris Davis said producing homegrown experts would not be easy.

“If the US, with 300 million people, is having a problem finding qualified individuals, what does that mean for the UAE and what decisions will that force them to make in the future?” Mr Davis asked.

“The demographics and the maths will be very challenging for the UAE.”

They were speaking on Sunday at an industry forum in Abu Dhabi titled Bridging the Cyber-security Talent Gap, hosted by the Arab Gulf States Institute in Washington and US defence and commercial electronics company Raytheon.

The conference brought together industry, government and education officials to assess the issue.

The institute said cyber-attacks on “key installations” in Arabian Gulf states cost US$1 billion (Dh3.67bn) a year – an amount it expected would increase.

In 2014, the UAE had a 400 per cent increase in such attacks, the institute said.

“It’s very important for us to partner effectively with both government and industry to make sure that the graduates we’re producing are going to be capable of meeting the daunting challenges,” said Prof Tod Laursen, president of Khalifa University.

This week, the university will be collaborating with Raytheon on a four-day workshop that will include discussions with experts from the University of Texas’s Centre for Infrastructure Assurance and Security.

“That might be the most important piece, reaching young professionals early in their careers, giving them access to the sort of expertise that folks in this room possess, and inspiring them for the opportunities they will have in the future to contribute to this sector,” said Prof Laursen.

Paul Rogers, general manager of industrial cyber-security at G E, said he was aware of corporations that had been held back from using technological advances because of security doubts.

“The reality is that it can be done safely,” Mr Rogers said. “What’s happening now is folks have half their equipment online and they don’t know it.

“Then they’re worried about putting the rest of it online because they don’t know the solutions, so there’s a lot of education that still needs to occur.”

esamoglou@thenational.ae

Published: February 21, 2016 04:00 AM

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