Tough cybersecurity measures needed for smart cities
As the GCC region continues to move rapidly towards digital transformation and adopting technologies such as blockchain, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the Internet of Things (IoT), it has become necessary for businesses and governments to implement cybersecurity services, experts say.
"As companies embark on their journey to digital transformation, they now see investing in cybersecurity as their top priority," said Mohammed Abukhater, vice-president for the MEA region at FireEye.
Speaking at the 38th Gitex Technology Week exhibition, he revealed that worldwide spending on information security products and services will reach more than $114 billion in 2018, an increase of 12.4 per cent from last year, according to the latest forecast from Gartner. In 2019, the market is forecast to grow 8.7 per cent to $124 billion.
"There will always be cybersecurity challenges and one of the major reasons for this is the lack of awareness of the importance of cybersecurity," he said. "The positive side to this is that the government has put policies and protocols in place to strengthen Dubai's position as a world leader in innovation, safety and security. Earlier this year, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, launched the Dubai Cyber Security Strategy, an initiative that aims to help businesses and individuals to create a safe cyber space, making Dubai's cybersecurity experience a global model."
Jawad Toukna, director, regional sales, emerging markets at Forcepoint, said the key when you want to protect something is to understand what all needs protection in order to put the right infrastructure in place.
"If you build it properly, you can avoid any kind of weaknesses within your network," he said. "You need to make sure you are covering the basics of security, so whenever there is any new threat coming in, you only have to address that new threat - you don't need to look for any backdoors from the past; you are looking for the future."
Smart cities, he added, are not secured by architecture, but rather how you develop the architecture. "For example, if you are building a house and don't put the doors where they belong, then you are building a vulnerable house. If you start building your city with an eye and outlook for cybersecurity implementation, you can continue to stay up-to-date and steer clear of potential threats. We've found that 90 per cent of cyber security attacks or leakages are accidental - perhaps someone clicking on a link they didn't know was malware. Nearly 10 per cent are malicious, which means people really want to leak the information and harm the company."
For a smart city, he noted that there are applications where everyone and everything is connected. Whoever is managing the city has access to all this data.
"When you manage a smart city, you have access to critical infrastructure, national grid, electricity, gas and even police," Toukna said. "If the wrong person has access to that infrastructure, they can take it down. We have seen this in movies but also in reality. In Ukraine, when the national grid went down during winter, there was no gas or electricity. At that time, the media were saying that it is a national cyber-attack - so that's why security in smart cities is really critical; we need to protect that infrastructure."
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