A GISEC-first Strategy: Attack is the best Form of Defence
H.E. Dr. Mohamed Al-Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security, UAE Government Dr. Aloysius Cheang, Chief Security Officer, Huawei Middle East & Central Asia UAE Cybersecurity Council
The past three years have been marked by unprecedented global changes and disruptions, with the COVID-19 pandemic, geopolitical instability, and rapid de-globalization creating a climate of uncertainty and tension worldwide. These developments have fueled global tensions, leading to the paradox of a global cyber pandemic amid rapid digital transformation and growth.
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) was not immune to these changes. The upheaval of the COVID-19 pandemic created an urgent need to accelerate digital transformation, paving the way for the UAE to establish itself as a trusted regional digital hub. The country took advantage of the situation and ramped up digital initiatives to become a digital economy leader in the region. The UAE’s government policies, industry-led regulatory regime, and open economy provided a conducive environment for driving digital innovation further, even as other countries were closing their borders to contain the pandemic.
Despite this bold approach, the UAE did not throw caution to the wind. Instead, the country implemented well-calibrated measures designed to build controls that enhance trust, security, and branding of a world-leading economy. Such an economy is resilient in the face of cyber pandemic headwinds characterized by supply chain attacks and ransomware blitz, among other threats in a volatile risk landscape. The bold approach embraced by the UAE over the last three years has been instrumental in the rapid digitalization of the country, building up the momentum that elevates the UAE into a global digital leader.
Over the years, various platforms have become increasingly influential in supporting the UAE’s digital leadership efforts, including the Dubai World Trade Centre’s flagship event, GITEX, and its sister event, GISEC. While GITEX focuses on the entire ICT spectrum, GISEC provides cybersecurity leadership, making it an essential platform for the UAE to be an agent of change for top cybersecurity enterprises from 40 countries.
GISEC has grown from strength to strength, being hosted for the 11th consecutive year in 2023. CISOs from major corporations across the Middle East, Africa, and Asia, government dignitaries and cyber leaders, regional and international innovators, and experts come together to shed light on the world’s most pressing cybersecurity challenges and discuss ways to stay ahead of potential threats through robust and innovative strategies.
The theme for GISEC this year is to take the fight to the cyber attackers by following the age-old adage: attack is the best form of defense. CISOs should adopt a GISEC-first strategy, using a page from the cyber attacker’s playbook. Through GISEC, we can build a platform based on openness, transparency, and collaboration because, just like football, building cybersecurity requires teamwork.
A GISEC-first strategy encourages CISOs to take a proactive approach because the traditional reactive model is ineffective. Today, only 19% of global cyber leaders are confident that their organizations are cyber resilient. The need for more effective cyber defense tactics is only becoming more urgent as digitization takes hold. By 2025, digital transformation will inject $100 trillion into the world economy, according to the WEF.
At GISEC, top cyber executives will unveil CISO’s 2023 strategy to decode the uptick in cyberattacks and costs while navigating the evolving threat landscape. The new era of cyberattacks ranges from Metaverse cybercrime, crypto-jacking, 51% attacks on blockchains; drone exploits delivery attacks to Quantum threat, cloud security to applying AI internally and at the edge across healthcare, banking & finance, utilities, oil & gas, transport, nuclear, defense & communications.
GISEC is the ideal platform for CISOs to learn from each other as we develop our game plans for our organizations. There’s a renewed sense of urgency for collaboration because cybersecurity rules have changed since the pandemic and the