Joint efforts needed to tackle global cyber threats - Gulf Business
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Joint efforts needed to tackle global cyber threats

Joint efforts needed to tackle global cyber threats

Cyber defence leaders gather in Dubai for Cybertech Global conference


Cybercriminals pay no attention to national borders. Conversely, cyber defence should take an international concerted approach if countries are to effectively protect their national assets.

The recent rapport between Gulf states and Israel could help create such regional synergy to tackle cyber threats. Countries in the region can learn from Israel which has some of the most advanced cybersecurity defence systems in the world. Israel can also pick examples from Gulf states who have built advanced smart public systems.

“The lesson here is that proactive ecosystems are needed more than ever. Israel is a good example of a very sophisticated and efficient ecosystem. GCC countries and indeed countries the world over should pursue such holistic systems,” says Amir Rapaport, founder of Cybertech Conference.

Rapaport says continued digital evolution will only happen as a result of such alliances. “The cyber-world is not about competition but collaboration. Countries should collaborate with other nations, big companies with smaller ones and entrepreneurs with corporate giants,” Rapaport says.

Cybertech is a series of global tech events with roots in Israel. The 8th edition of the flagship Cybertech Global conference moved from Tel Aviv to Dubai this year, held from April 5 to 7. Regional versions of the event are held in cities such as Singapore, Tokyo, Bangkok, Kigali, Rome and New York.

Rapaport says Cybertech is not an event just for tech people, but also for government officials, entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and universities with the aim of creating an ecosystem.

Cybertech Global – UAE was held in the shadow of the profound changes brought by Covid-19. Indeed, Dubai was chosen because it’s one of few global cities open to physical events while connected to the rest of the world through flights coupled with strict health and safety regulations. The city is also a hub for cyber technology, ICT, business and innovation, Rapaport observes.

“We had a lot of concerns regarding the uncertainty that the pandemic brings. But everything worked out well, with participation and support of the Dubai Electronic Security Centre (DESC) the National Cyber Security Council of UAE and many global agencies and organisations,” Rapaport adds.

Rapaport: Cybercrime, being more organised and lucrative, presents new levels of risk for individuals and nation.
Cybertech was borne of the idea that the world is in the midst of a major cyber evolution, says Rapaport. “Cyber is not a segment – it’s a new domain for humanity, just like water or air. within this virtual domain lies our social lives, finances, businesses and more.”

The growing dependence on online services and the digital acceleration imposed by Covid-19 has created new challenges for cybersecurity. “Cybercrime, being more organised and lucrative, presents new levels of risk for individuals and nations. Experts predict that 2021 will be another year of significant transition and rising threats, with attacks not only growing in frequency but becoming increasingly impactful,” warns Rapaport.

Cybersecurity awareness has dramatically gone up in the region as a result of attacks directed at both private businesses and public targets. The advanced infrastructure in many countries such as paperless ecosystems, smart governments smart cities, etc has translated into a better appreciation for cybersecurity.

“From a cybersecurity perspective, there is still a gap between what the region has and what the region needs. And this is part of the reason why we received such a huge interest for the Cybertech event here,” says Rapaport.

Rapaport says 2020 was nothing short of a turning point for digital. “The wholesale shift to the internet for a lot of our physical needs added a new dimension to cybersecurity. The year was significant not just because of the cloud, but also because we witnessed for the first-time cyber-attacks eventually reflected in the physical world in some countries,” Rapaport says.

“It has also become increasingly routine for countries to interfere in other countries by cyber influence, fake news, etc,” Rapaport observes.

Leading figures in the global cybersecurity community participated in Cybertech Global-Dubai, either physically or virtually. Among them were Mohamed Hamad Hareb Al-Kuwaiti, head of Cybersecurity, UAE Government, Yigal Unna, director general, Israel National Cyber Directorate, Gen. (ret.), David H. Petraeus, former director of the CIA, Ann Johnson, corporate vice president, Cybersecurity Solutions Group, Microsoft, among others.

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