RIYADH: The world needs a new approach to protect itself from emerging cyber threats, Saudi Arabia’s information and communication technology minister said Wednesday at the Global Cyber Security Forum on Wednesday in Riyadh.
Abdullah Al-Swaha added his voice to calls for reform in the face of growing threats from hackers and rapidly advancing technology such as AI and quantum computers, which have the potential to undermine even the best cybersecurity available in the world. present.
He said the Kingdom had risen to second place globally in its cybersecurity ranking, but added that it must “retrain” to maintain that position. “We need to change from conventional IT to secure everything,” she said.
The dangers posed by advancing technology were pointed out on another panel by theoretical physicist Michio Kaku, who said that the computers of the near future will make modern devices look like little more than abacuses.
He called for education on handling artificial intelligence and quantum computers, warning that various AI programs could already mimic human behavior.
“We need quantum to fight quantum. We have to rethink the whole thing. In fact, we will become obsolete when quantum computers are implemented,” he said.
“People used to say that it was impossible to create a quantum computer that could compete with a digital supercomputer. Three years ago, the impossible happened: quantum computers in the US and China surpassed the capacity of a digital supercomputer.”
He said that the Chinese quantum computer exceeded the capacity of a modern digital device by 100 trillion times.
“These quantum computers are ushering in a new era of insecurity. These quantum computers can bypass all known security protocols. This is called chaos. Realizing that we are entering a new era, the Silicon Valley era is coming to an end, as quantum computers begin to take over.”
He said that while the shift to the quantum age may be gradual, it was inevitable.
Kaku added that humans should create advanced trapdoor functions to make it more difficult for a criminal to penetrate the security apparatus.
Speaking on the same panel, Shyam Saran, India’s former foreign secretary, said that global collaboration and a healthy diplomatic framework were necessary to ensure cybersecurity.
“We are experiencing a very difficult geopolitical situation. The countries that could lead the (cybersecurity) collaboration are actually pitted against each other. If they are not going to lead, who will? he said.
He said decision makers need to be educated about cyber threats to help them create the right regulatory policies and create a safe online space.
Doreen Martin, secretary-general-elect of the UN’s International Telecommunication Union, insisted that world leaders were paying attention to cybersecurity concerns.
She told the event: “The UN secretary general put cyber security as a central issue and in the common agenda that he launched last year, and it is also a central element of the new agenda for peace that is being discussed.” .
Martin accepted that the world needed to be better prepared for the wave of technical innovations on the horizon.
“I think each of us has to do more because as we get older, the cyber world moves faster, and the quantum world moves faster, and of course the metaverse is almost here, so we have to do more.” , said.
Martin said the ITU was helping countries benchmark themselves, identify gaps in their defenses and look at others in terms of best practice.
“Overall, we are seeing positive trends and we have a number of countries that have introduced new laws, and we are seeing increased training for law enforcement, which is encouraging.”
Robert Putman, manager of cybersecurity products and services at the multinational ABB, said that it was not only the technology that needed to evolve to protect against cyberattacks, but also the behavior of people.
“People don’t understand what the risk is. They don’t understand how to deal with it. Complacency is one of the root causes of the risks and exposure that we have right now,” she said.
He said the market had gone through a transition that, like insurance, involved risk modeling. Using such models would allow them to understand the impact of that risk on operating assets, he added.
Interpol President Ahmed Naser Al-Raisi told the event that the world needed a better exchange of information and ideas to defeat global threats.
“When we have a basis to exchange information, even when there are no diplomatic relations between countries, it is important to protect citizens,” he said.
Al-Raisi said that the estimated annual losses from cybercrime had doubled to $6 trillion since 2015 and were expected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025.
“This number is more than the natural disasters that occur in a year, plus the profits that all drug traffickers in the world make,” he said.
As the whole world is becoming a town with a vast Internet space, a huge field for all criminal operations in cyber attacks has emerged, he said.
“My past experience with intelligent transformation has led me to have my first strategy in the (Interpol) organization and prioritize cybercrime,” he said at the meeting.
This move has led to ensuring that all 195 member states have competency systems and capabilities that can not only respond to a cyber attack but also prevent it, he added.
Christopher Blassiau, Senior Vice President of Cybersecurity and Global CISO at Schneider Electric, said the changing nature and fracture of the global energy market makes the sector vulnerable to hackers. “There is a huge amount of risk,” he said.
Blassiau added that due to the absolute necessity of a green agenda, digitization is advancing at a fast pace, bringing complete visibility into asset performance and better dialogue between humans and machines.
Mary Aiken, an expert in cyberpsychology, the study of the impact of technology on human behavior, said that the unanimity of the Internet was one of the main threats facing the modern world.
“The Internet was created on the principle that all users are equal. This is not true. Some users are vulnerable, especially children and women,” she said. “Young people take risks online that they won’t take in the real world.”
There has been an increase in cyberattacks in the Middle East and North Africa region in recent years, with many businesses suffering greater losses than in other parts of the world. The problem is compounded by the fact that 57 percent of organizations report open cybersecurity positions.
A weak line of defense increases a company’s vulnerability to significant harm, according to a report released Wednesday by the Global Cybersecurity Forum.
The report also said that around 94 percent of women in the Middle East would be interested in studying cybersecurity, although only a small percentage of women worldwide were active in that field.
Speaking to Arab News, Laila bin Hareb Al-Mheiri, founder and president of Alive Group, Alive Medical, Alive Labs and Alive consulting and education, said that women have a high level of emotional intelligence and a unique perspective on issues and the benefits of cybersecurity. this extra touch.
Al-Mheiri said there is a misconception that women are not qualified to succeed in a male-dominated society.
“I have received praise and support from my male counterparts in Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. It has been nothing but positivity for me,” she said.
IBM General Manager Mary O’Brien said that throughout her career she has encountered opportunity, respect and inclusion. However, as a woman, she said: “I am very aware of the lack of women around the table and the lack of diversity of thought that comes with it.”
Role models and allies are critical to creating change, he told Arab News.
The report cites more than 70 percent of respondents saying a role model encouraged them to learn more about the industry and pursue a cybersecurity degree.
Many women feel more confident moving forward when they see another woman moving up the ranks, she said.
Ultimately, O’Brien suggested engaging young women in STEM early on and help break down some of the stigmas that limit their progress.