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With cyber-attack on Middle East's oil and gas a very real possibility, experts gather to discuss solutions


Muscat, 3rd April 2012 – Following a day focused on international collaboration and knowledge sharing as potential solutions against the ever-increasing threat of cyber warfare, day two of the Cyber Defence Summit was opened by Marco Obiso, Cyber Security Coordinator at ITU.


Amongst the experts that contributed on this second day were Shawn Henry, Former Executive Assistant Director, Criminal, Cyber, Response, and Services Branch, Federal Bureau of Investigation. In 2009, SC Magazine confirmed him as one of the top industry pioneers to have shaped the information security industry. One year later, he was named cybercrime fighter of the year by McAfee Inc, and as one of the most influential people in security by Security Magazine.


Henry commented: "We have to share threat data. My threat data will help enable you to be more secure. It will help you be predictive and will allow you to be proactive. Despite our best efforts we need to assume that we will get breached, hence we need to ensure our organisations have consequence management in its systems that allow us to minimise any damage."


Guy Meguer, General Manager Middle East at Cassidian and Sypris Electronics' Information Assurance Technical Director Michael Duren, featured on a panel discussion evaluating the security threats and vulnerabilities of a SCADA network — a system utilised by the majority oil and gas companies.


"There is more to cyber security than just tools. The deeper we go into a SCADA system the more security is required. Besides tools, cyber security can be achieved through better procedures — and redesigning information technology architecture and vulnerability management," explained Meguer. Michael Duren described the infamous Stuxnet in detail and how it can lead to loss of money and lives: "It has been a milestone for malware and is the benchmark that every security system needs to be able to combat. Every industrial system needs to be capable enough to at least handle Stuxnet, because in the future malware and viruses will only become more complex."


Although cloud computing is considered the way forward by many in the information technology industry, one of the main concerns associated with it is security. These fears were addressed by InfoWatch's Alexander Zaravosky, Mohamed Nayaz from Ernst & Young and Barclays' Martin McHugh.


All three concluded that cloud computing is not a buzzword anymore: "It's a reality and something that is here to stay." They highlighted a few of the major benefits of cloud computing, including the lower cost of ownership, faster response time and the ease of scalability.


The summit is endorsed by ITU-IMPACT, the largest cyber security alliance of its kind and officially hosted by Information Technology Authority Oman and Oman National CERT. Organised by leading French business information group naseba, it enables regional cyber security experts to meet in one location and formulate comprehensive, forward thinking plans to defend the Middle East — and specifically its critical infrastructure — from possible cyber threats.