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Al Dhaheri...'cyber-attacks are getting more frequent and complicated'

Securing smart cities is 'crucial', says expert

DUBAI, January 18, 2017

With a rapid increase in smart city initiatives worldwide, there is a strong need to form a clear cyber security structure have a proper risk management plan and appoint chief information officers at city levels in addition to taking other steps in order to secure smart cities, a senior IT expert has advised.

Dr. Saeed Al Dhaheri, chairman of Smartworld, a joint venture between Etisalat and Dubai South, said cyber-attacks are getting more frequent and complicated, making enterprises and smart city echo systems more vulnerable.

Smart Cities industry is projected to be worth more than $400 billion by 2020, according to experts. The mega trend of Smart Cities is the main solution to cope with water and energy shortages, higher air pollution, traffic congestions and other challenges due to rapid urbanization.

Al Dhaheri said the UAE is actively taking effective measures at federal, local and private levels to enhance security.

Among the key initiatives in this direction are forming the National Electronic Security Authority (NESA) and Computer Emergency Response Team – AE CERT at the Federal level and Dubai Electronic Security Center and Abu Dhabi Systems & Information Center – ADSIC at local level.

The private sector has also taken some remarkable measures toward this including establishing UAE’s first-of-its-kind ‘Cyber Security Centre’ by Smartworld and The Kernel, which will train UAE nationals in cyber security and provide round-the-clock advanced security monitoring alongwith cyber threat management to companies across the government and private sector in the UAE.

In his presentation on ‘Overcoming the Cybersecurity Challenges of Smart Cities’, Al Dhaheri said our society is now more vulnerable to cyber threats as we become more digitalised.

Quoting a Fortnet report according to which there are more than half a million cyber-attacks worldwide each minute, Al Dhaheri highlighted how the threats and risks increase with more connected IoT and more data being recorded and stored in different locations.

“Every two days the world creates more data than the history or human kind did till 2003,” he said, while adding that hackers are becoming more intelligent with the new smart tools and there have been more complex and intelligent attacks alongwith with the availability of more advanced tools for discovery and protection.

“The threats and risks not only cause theft and financial losses, but extend to the lives of people as well. With the growing initiatives toward Smart Cities, there is an absolute necessity for proper Security & Risk management planning for smart cities,” said Al Dhaheri.

Quoting IDC’s Smart City predictions, he said 90 per cent of cities in 2016 will lack comprehensive policies for Drones, sensors, and IoT, which highlights the necessity to act without any delay.

Targetted at improving quality of life and efficiency of urban operations and services, smart sustainable cities use information and communication technologies (ICTs), to achieve these goals and meeting the changing needs of people.

Some of the possible threats to smart cities, he said, could be hacking into energy plants and manufacturing systems, smart homes systems, satellites, autonomous driving cars, traffic lights networks and also financial and banking data, Al Dhaheri explained.

Explaining further about challenges toward ensuring cyber security, Al Dhaheri pointed out that is skill shortage in cybersecurity needs to be dealt with, for which coordination with universities and training centers and encouraging UAE locals to study Cybersecurity, in addition to continued investment in training, would help.

The launch of the Cyber Security Centre by Smartworld and The Kernel is in line with the vision and development strategies of the UAE and Dubai especially toward technological advancements in all areas and supports the most critical component of security for organisations.

Al Dhaheri said: “This unique initiative will cater to the rapidly-rising demand for cyber security and local talent in this area. With this initiative we reaffirm our commitment to support the UAE leadership’s vision to excel in every sphere.” - TradeArabia News Service

Tags: Smart | Security | Safety | cyber | City | attack | measure |

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