News

Regional cyber security collaboration deemed the key following recent hacking of BBC
2 April 2012

Muscat, April 2nd 2012 - When the BBC suffered a sophisticated cyber-attack at the beginning of last month, it led to the jamming of international TV stations and parts of the organisation were unable to access email and other internet services

This is not an isolated incident however, and following a string of high-profile hacks a united front is required to tackle a problem that has been in the headlines since early 2011.

Given the potential repercussions of a cyber-attack, regional collaboration is required – and this is the main theme behind the summit in Muscat. Its endorsement by ITU-IMPACT, the largest cyber security alliance of its kind with 137 members, reemphasises its importance. The brainchild of French business information group naseba, the two days are officially hosted by Oman National CERT and the Information Technology Authority Oman (ITA).

In his opening address at the summit, ITA's CEO Dr Salim said: "Cyber Defence Summit is a continuation of the efforts and vigilance of different global countries. The aim is to benefit from the experiences of leading network and computer security experts who occupy administrative positions in government authorities, banking, oil and gas organisations, and information protection service providers. We will be looking into these [experiences] to identify methods for coping with the challenges resulting from attacks – such as gross damages and losses in key sectors -- to which both public and private sectors are exposed."

A host of industry gurus are present and speaking at the summit. These include Suleyman Anil, Cyber Defence Head at NATO; Marco Obiso of International Telecommunications Union and Eugene Kaspersky, CEO and founder of Kaspersky Labs.

All three featured on a panel discussion with Philip Victor, Director Policy and International Cooperation at IMPACT. They highlighted that cyber security is a worldwide challenge which can only be tackled effectively through cross-border and pan-regional collaboration.

Eugene Kaspersky explained: "Too much data is being collected via the internet nowadays, even when transactions are done. My idea is that if I shop online I don't want to sacrifice my personal details as that might lead to an invasion of my personal privacy." Suleyman Anil explained the significance of accepting Stuxnet: "Stuxnet is a reality and given the expansion of the internet and interconnectivity, this can only get worse." Marco Obiso summed up the entire discussion: "We need to admit that we have problems and then we need to realise the importance of having global standards -- these two should be the starting points of any cyber defence discussion."

This was followed by a discussion examining the role of Computer Emergency Response Teams -- the first line of cyber defence for any country's critical infrastructure. Dr Frederick Wamala, CISSP® Cyber Security Advisor at UK explained: "It's the responsibility of the government to ensure their people are well trained and have the know-how to protect its virtual borders. Oman is a perfect example for others to follow as they have a national strategy and standards which are followed by everyone." Badar Al-Saheli, Director of Oman CERT explained the good work being done by the CERTS in the GCC, and highlighted their main achievements; including the formation of GCC CERT, which is exactly what the world requires.

In addition, Lt Col (R) Husin Jazri, Chief Executive Officer of CyberSecurity Malaysia, a leading cyber security authority in Asia, shed light on what Asia has been doing and what can be learned from their experiences. He also reiterated the importance of knowledge sharing

As day one of the summit drew to a close, Roger Cressey, Senior Vice President at Booz Allen Hamilton touched upon successful examples of tools and solutions that have worked and how they can help any organisation, regardless of where they are in the world. He concluded: "The global nature of this problem means that a solution developed anywhere in the world is helpful to anyone living in the world. "

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