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Leading Cybersecurity Conference MENA ISC 2021 to Spotlight Cyber Vigilance in The 5G Era

Jeddah: gulftech

The number of cyberattacks has tripled over the past decade  in the wake of a growing reliance on digital financial services, which remains the most targeted sector. This is according to an analysis by the International Monetary Fund (IMF) in December 2020.

According to the analysis, due to the strength of mutual financial and technological links, any successful attack on a major financial institution, statute, or service used by many can quickly spread throughout the financial system, leading to widespread disruption and loss of confidence, especially since transactions can fail due to liquidity insecurity, and households and companies can lose access to deposits and payments.

Moreover, a recent study revealed that 80% of institutions in Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA) region were exposed to cyberattacks, with an increase in the proportion of subversive activities, despite advanced protection measures. The study noted that these institutions are now managing about 73% more data on average than they did a year ago.


Samir Omar, CEO of Virtuport’s Middle East and North Africa Information Security Conference 2021 (MENA ISC 2021) stressed the importance of countering cyberattacks through a proactive cyber vigilance strategy, especially in light of the expansion of 5G networks, by mapping the most important operational and technological links and infrastructure.

“Mapping of cyber risks will improve the ability to understand and mitigate risks, as quantification of the potential impact will help to focus the response and encourage commitment to this issue more strongly, especially as work in this area still lacks data on the impact of cyber events and challenges to the modeling process.”

As telecom operators continue to operate legacy 3G/4G infrastructure as they roll out 5G services, providing homes, businesses and personal mobile devices access to higher speeds, incidents of cybercrime are only going to increase and be more lucrative.

The deployment of 5G technology may indeed expose users to increased cyberthreats, posing a major challenge to the telecommunications industry. A report by a specialized company, operating in the cyber security industry, expected that 5G networks will open new opportunities for attack and piracy and significantly change the threat landscape for the telecommunications industry, and the more common the technology, the more devices are connected to the 5G network, the number of attackers looking for vulnerabilities will also increase.

An important question emerges here: Why are cyberattacks more prevalent in 5G networks? This can be attributed to the multiplicity of areas that use the 5G network, including self-driving vehicles, smart electrical networks, smart medicine, and military communications, making it difficult to distinguish between the main or critical parts of their network infrastructure from the sub-networks. The other reason is the enhanced reliance of companies and individuals on these networks, paving the way for an increased risk of data theft and the targeting of cyber networks.

Main Challenges

The most prominent challenge facing 5G networks is the possibility of tampering with their main equipment, such as the secret gateway known as the “backdoor,” which allows for intercepting, redirecting data or destroying vital systems – even after systems pass security tests, as updates continue to be sent to them by manufacturers. Not to mention the possibility of hackers targeting the algorithms under which artificial intelligence (AI) systems operate, as the Internet of Things (IoT) greatly expands the chances and results of such attacks,  making it difficult to detect attacks that copy or modify data because, despite system breaches, major networks operate normally.

5G networks perform three main tasks, the first of which is providing fast download speeds for users. The second relates to reliable high-speed communications designed for autonomous vehicles and other applications that cannot afford communication gaps. The third is linked to massive machine-to-machine communications, or IoT, where billions of devices are constantly connected.

Cybersecurity Vigilance

This year’s MENA ISC 2021 virtual conference is held under the theme “Cybersecurity Vigilance, Continuous Monitoring & Mitigation. Understanding the Impact of the 5G Era,” and will be held from May 25th to 26th, with the participation of more than 40 international experts, and in the presence of participants from a variety of sectors, including transportation, oil and gas, education, real estate, government agencies, healthcare, telecommunications, financial services, and the military sector.

The conference will showcase specialized technical workshops that will focus on the different aspects of the theme. MENA ISC 2021 comes at a critical time when industries are witnessing a surge in cyberattacks, requiring a proactive cyber vigilance strategy that protects sectors from the repercussions of serious attacks on their technological infrastructure.

The agenda outlined for the conference includes discussions on topics such as 5G networks, cybersecurity frameworks, AI, analytics, cloud security, virtualization, data security and privacy strategy, satellite and communications, human skills in cybersecurity, and advanced hacker threats. Other virtual sessions will focus on cyber espionage, high healthcare data breaches, e-mail as an entry point for data theft, increased security vulnerabilities, high-risk malware, cybersecurity intelligence and much more. 

This year’s conference Diamond Sponsors are Crowdstrike and TrendMicro; Platinum Sponsors: Blackberry, Cybereason, I(TS)², SentinelOne, Splunk and Tripwire; Premium Golden Sponsors: BeyondTrust, CyberX, FireEye, Lookout, McAfee, MINDWARE, RSA and VMRAY; Gold Sponsors: Darktrace, Recorded Future and Zerofox; and Silver Premium Sponsors: INTEL 471 and VECTRA. The conference’s Educational Partner is (ISC)2 and Strategic Partner is Acronis. Other partners include Dot Motions, Marcom Arabia and W7Worldwide. All these companies have invested time, money and resources to MENA ISC and its sponsors and partners will provide a thought leadership experience that is critical in a fast-moving world witnessing digital transformation.

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