ABU DHABI // Effective defence of the nation’s cyberspace must take into account the possibility that attackers are not just nations or shadowy groups, a security expert has warned.
“In cyberspace there are no national boundaries, and attackers needn’t be a country or organisation,” said William Hagestad, a researcher in cyber security intelligence at Red Dragon Rising Publishing in the US. “They can be anyone with a computer, mouse and keyboard and the will to do harm.”
Protecting the country from such attacks will be discussed at the three-day Cyber Defence and Network Security summit, starting today, when 100 industry experts from across the UAE, including the police and military, will gather.
Mr Hagestad, who will discuss international threats and how attackers have breached GCC security, said the forum’s main objective was to share information.
Maj Mohammed Almarashda of Sharjah Police, a PhD researcher in homeland and information security at Bournemouth University in the UK, said increasing knowledge of security was crucial.
“There must be joint efforts in handling any threat, whether governmental or private, to function in a coordinated framework,” Maj Almarashda said.
Developing a more resilient system for sharing information on security is his main aim.
“Research and knowledge in this area are highly needed in our region,” Maj Almarashda said. “The UAE’s cyber security needs more effective solutions.”
Col Ralph Thiele, the summit’s chairman and a former director of special projects at the German air force, said cyber crime was only the tip of the iceberg.
“Cyber espionage, both of business and national security secrets, is prevalent. The summit will help participants better understand related challenges and undertake adequate measures, which is important as the old cyber security instruments alone won’t do the job any longer.”
Col Thiele said UAE organisations were well advised on the change.
“We will look at how cyber attacks can affect government performance, business and markets, and discuss systematic approaches to reducing the consequences of attacks,” he said. Hani Nofal, executive director at Gulf Business Machines, an IT company, said the sharing of data between government organisations would be valuable.
“We are experiencing the biggest fundamental change since the initial deployment of the internet,” Mr Nofal said. “Connections between context-aware machines will change how we use devices and improve our lives, but for that we need robust and effective security policies.”
Matthew Cochran, chairman of the Defence Services Marketing Council in Abu Dhabi, said training on equipment and software alone would not work.
“It is more important knowing what to do with the equipment, hardware and big data as the first phase of protecting your country in a defensive or offensive way.
“Governments, militaries and critical national infrastructure must also have cyber leadership education together continuously to achieve a rapid response.”