From: Oman Daily Observer

Concern over cyber attacks

By Conrad Prabhu – MUSCAT — Cyber security czars from leading international organisations are among dozens of industry experts expected to descend on Muscat next month for a major summit that, among other things, will hammer out a strategy for the region’s cyber defence. ‘Cyber Defence Summit 2012’ will be held on April 2-3 at Grand Hyatt Muscat. It is being staged against a backdrop of escalating global concerns over the potential implications of cyber attacks against critical national infrastructure systems and even the global economy.

Underscoring the global significance of the event, a number of multilateral agencies are dispatching their frontline experts to next month’s summit. Leading the line-up is Nato whose Cyber Defence head, Suleyman Anil, will be a panellist at the event. Representing the US Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is Shawn Henry, Executive Assistant Director, Criminal, Cyber, Response and Services Branch.

Oman’s flagship IT agencies — the Information Technology Authority (ITA) and Oman National CERT (OCERT) — are backing the summit as co-hosts. OCERT (Oman National Computer Emergency Readiness Team) is the principal agency tasked by the government to tackle cyber security challenges and to serve as the focal point of contact for any ICT security incidents.

Other high-profile speakers include Jim Nelms, Chief Information Security Officer of the World Bank; Eugene Kaspersky, the founder and CEO of Kaspersky Labs; and Marco Obiso, Cyber-security Coordinator at the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
Organised by naseba, a leading international events management company, ‘Cyber Defence Summit 2012’ is a sequel to last year’s hugely successful launch event held in the UAE. It was attended by key regional stakeholders who deliberated on ways to identify, investigate and resolve security challenges in the region.

“The Cyber Defence Summit is gathering the key regional stakeholders in Muscat, Oman to discuss and explore the heightened importance of cyber security in the region. Under the theme ‘Defending your virtual borders’ — the invitation-only initiative is focused on protecting the virtual boundaries of the Middle East. It enables C-level cyber security experts from government authorities, plus the banking, oil and gas and defence sectors to identify and resolve online security challenges,” the organisers naseba stated.

The Gulf states are investing hundreds of millions of dollars in securing their IT infrastructure from cyber attacks that could potentially hobble their mainstay oil and gas sector, as well as critical assets underpinning banking, telecom, utility, and government infrastructure.

Helping them find common ground in their national cyber security strategies is a key objective of the two-day summit, says naseba. Topics for discussion during two-day event include emerging threats, cross-border and pan-regional collaboration, role of CERTs, cyber analytics, regulatory challenges, detection and forensics, and so on.

There will also be a panel discussion on the security threats and vulnerabilities of SCADA networks with particular focus on the Stuxnet computer worm that is believed to have targeted key Iranian nuclear systems. Challenges posed by the equally sophisticated computer worm Duqu, which gathers authentication codes and other critical information, will be evaluated as well.

Significantly, the summit is endorsed by the International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Threats (IMPACT), which is the cyber-security executing arm of the United Nations’ specialised agency for ICTs, the International Telecommunication Union. As the world’s first comprehensive alliance against cyber threats, IMPACT brings together governments, academia and industry experts to enhance the global community’s capabilities in dealing with cyber threats.
Speakers from Oman will include Badar Ali al Salehi, Director — Oman National CERT; John Cunneen, Executive Director and Member, Authority for Electricity Generation Oman; and Haitham Hilal al Hajri, Digital Forensics Specialist, Oman National CERT.