Regional and global cybersecurity leaders used day one of GISEC 2021, the Middle East’s and Africa’s most influential and connected cybersecurity event, to outline the need for greater collaboration, knowledge sharing and trust building between public and private sectors to tackle increasingly innovative and sophisticated cybercriminals.
His Excellency Dr Mohamed Al-Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security, UAE Government, delivered the opening keynote of the ninth edition of GISEC, which runs at Dubai World Trade Centre, DWTC, until June 2, and reinforced that it is a case of when, not if, governments and corporations will fall victim to a cyberattack. However, he called for collaborative efforts to identify new threats, anticipate the severity of attacks and limit reputational and operational damage.
“Cybercriminals will still find creative ways to breach our systems and platforms, and we want to be able to detect those malicious activities early, proactively, take swift action and minimise the impact,” said Dr Al-Kuwaiti in his opening address.
“Technology is only one solution. As threats become ever more sophisticated there is a need for international collaboration to govern behaviour in cyberspace and enhance the security and trust that is essential to the functioning of a global digital economy.
“We need that collaboration to build a resilient cybersecurity platform. Global collaboration will drive the digital benefits for all, including small nations that need more support.
“We can do more. There are bad actors who are leveraging the same technologies that we are using to benefit humanity; they are leveraging them for bad means and to attack us all. We need to put our heads together to combat that.”
Dare to share
Dr Al-Kuwaiti’s views were echoed by Craig Jones, Cybercrime Director, INTERPOL, who shared his experiences in an on-stage interview along with Colonel Saeed Al Hajri, Director, Cyber Crime Department, Dubai Police. Jones said that INTERPOL is working with countries to create knowledge sharing platforms in order to collaborate on best practices, and operations platforms to identify joint approaches that can monitor and eventually catch cybercriminals.
“We have to protect ourselves. We have to identify those vulnerabilities, share information, share trust in order to target criminals, impact them and prevent crime,” said Jones.
Jones gave insight into how public-private partnerships have produced positive results in Nigeria by collapsing a criminal network responsible for phishing attacks.
“We need that trust and to also work out how we change that policing model to a ‘dare to share’ approach,” added Jones.
Colonel Saeed Al Hajri, Director, Cyber Crime Department, Dubai Police, added: “We are working hard, through bilateral relations, police-to-police connections. Global connections and police-to-police intelligence sharing is key.”
“We are working closely with the private sector – protecting them from attacks. We are giving them the knowledge they need to protect their businesses, their assets, their homes.
“Of course, we need to do more. Our messages to businesses, to individuals, is to keep anticipating what is next, keep innovating, we have the competency. Let us work together.”
Meanwhile, Aloysius Cheang, Chief Security Officer, Huawei UAE, stressed the need for cross-industry collaboration to enhance systematic cybersecurity governance and unify cybersecurity standards.