As the region’s businesses leap forward in their digital transformation, they should keep the threat of ransomware in mind and invest in cybersecurity infrastructure and resources, according to panellists at the inaugural AB Technology Forum on Wednesday.
Investing in cybersecurity should be at the top of a digital company’s priorities, said Thibault Werlé, managing director & partner, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Emerging Technologies, BCG.
“We are putting technology inside our daily life but also inside our critical infrastructure. There’s definitely some benefits but also risks such as what happened with the Colonial Pipeline where millions of people couldn’t get gasoline because of this,” said Werlé.
The key to future-proofing businesses is embracing a digital transformation strategy while navigating cybersecurity challenges, panellists at AB Technology Forum agreed
In April, hackers gained entry to US based pipeline system Colonial Pipeline’s s networks effecting 45 percent of the East Coast’s fuel supply, driving up gasoline prices and sparking shortages at filling stations after the company shut down the roughly 5,500-mile pipeline in May.
“So we’re going to see also a lot more emphasis in investments in cybersecurity in particular when it comes to growing the digital economy: if we want to grow it, we have to protect it,” added Werlé.
Ransomware has made its way to the region with Saudi oil producer Aramco recently confirming that some company files were leaked after hackers reportedly demanded a $50 million ransom. In fact, “the next global virus is cyber,” said Bilal Sabouni managing director, Middle East, North Africa & Turkey, Guidepoint.
“Cybersecurity is an issue that has come home in the region. It is a theme that businesses need to embrace and need to be worried about,” said Sabouni.
“Ransomware is going to be the next concern to hit businesses, not just the size of Aramco but all the way down effecting companies of all sizes across the entire globe. The ransom will not be $50 million or a $100 million but $10,000 and the $100,000 and they will come to our businesses here,” he added.
One way to deal with ransomware is through quantum computing which has made its way to the UAE with Abu Dhabi getting its first quantum computer recently.
Thibault Werlé, managing director & partner, Technology, Media & Telecommunications, Emerging Technologies, BCG.
Quantum computing is going to revolutionise the criminal industry and businesses have to keep up with that. We can do a lot of wonderful things with it such as deploying in healthcare and the police force.” said Sabouni.
“Dubai has 300,000 live surveillance cameras, controlled by the by police. On one hand, this is driving organised crime away from things like going and holding up a bank by knife but [on the other hand] it drives them into the cyber world,” he added.
“The rise of crypto is enabling the criminal community to profit out of these activities but also there’s an enormous amount of data that is generated out of these 300,000 live cameras, all feeding into centralised points whether it’s in the cloud or not. This data needs crunched, and what police communities around the world are increasingly looking at is deploying very high levels of sophisticated machine learning and AI systems on these fields,” said Sabouni.
Knowledge of cybersecurity was listed by Moza Al Suwaidan, director of Strategy & Innovation, Smart Dubai as one of the essential skills needed for those working in digital transformation.
“With the prevalence of smart cities and the increased of competition between them comes more competition in terms of attracting good resources and cybersecurity is one of those resources,” said Al Suwaidan.
“The software security domain is becoming very much in demand and actually I just advised my son to specialise in cybersecurity in university,” she added.
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