Providing adequate training for people involved in cybersecurity is the most important part of any cybersecurity prevention approach, Smartworld CEO said.
“Companies spend a lot, focus so much on protecting hardware and software against cyber threats and hire the biggest security solutions providers to secure their networks and applications but there is one element missing. That is the culture of security,” Abdulqader Obaid Ali, Chief Executive Officer of IT systems integrator Smartworld, a joint venture between Etisalat and Dubai government, told TechRadar Middle East.
“We at Smartworld are looking at slight differently when dealing with cybersecurity. Cybersecurity is not that something when you are hacked. You would probably been hacked and you don’t know about it. It is like cancer. You have it but you don’t know about it, till it becomes too late. Unless you go for a regular check-up, it is like cancer in an organisation,” he said.
Smartworld, which was started in 2008 to provide telecom connectivity in Jebel Ali, is now providing cybersecurity solutions to companies, SMEs and enterprises in the UAE.
The company is one of the systems integrators at Al Maktoum International Airport terminals and has teamed up with Cisco to design and deploy the network infrastructure for Expo 2020 Dubai.
“We started the airport work in 2008 and we haven’t come out. We are doing project after project at the airport terminals,” he said.
He said that cybersecurity needs to be part of an organisation’s culture to be effective and an awareness training strategy can significantly lower the risks associated with cyberattacks.
“Many people don’t know what is phishing and ransomware. So, we are going to train the trainers who have access to a computer and the internet and they can go and train others on threats, risks, cyber hygiene and appropriate response options,” he said.
Cybersecurity is no more just an IT department’s problem but a business problem, he said.
- State-sponsored actors to launch more coordinated cyber attacks
- Prediction rather than prevention is way forward to stay one step ahead of hackers
- Healthcare is an attractive target for disruptive or destructive cyberattacks
- Cyber risk to operational technology to be greater than information technology in Middle East
A pressing concern
“Cybersecurity is not only a top critical issue globally but also a pressing concern in the UAE. A small drone can get into the airspace and cause the airport to come to a standstill and cause huge losses to the airlines and the airport,” Obaid Ali said.
The UAE takes a big pie of the cybersecurity spending and why it is more in the country, he asked.
According to research firm IDC, enterprise security spending is expected to reach $2.7b this year and out of this, South Africa will contribute 26%, UAE by 19%, Saudi Arabia by 15% and Turkey by 9%.
In the UAE, security spending is expected to be about 8.8% of the total IT spending of $8.5b in 2020.
“People throw stones at a tree that has fruits on it. The fruits are the success of a country and when a country becomes successful, people want to take a piece of the pie. The UAE, in the last fifty years, has come from nowhere to where it is today. It is not only individuals or companies that are worried about cybersecurity but also countries,” he said.
Moreover, he said that geopolitical issues are also a “big concern”.
“There is a lot more attack on us because of the regional instability and due to the country’s success factor. We are going to see more attacks and we have to live with it. We no longer need soldiers to fight a war and what is needed is the technology in the form of small drones,” he said.
The Dubai-headquartered company is also planning to expand into Saudi Arabia.
“We have visited Saudi Arabia and looking into it. We are waiting for board approval and we have put some seeds there. We will go and harvest when the plant comes up. One of the options we will be offering is cybersecurity while the other will be IBS (in-building solutions) that is GPS solutions and 5G upgrades in buildings and airports,” Obaid Ali said.