The UAE is pushing towards training and equipping the future generation of cyber students and engineers with the right tools needed to counter evolving security threats.
Institutes such as the American University of Sharjah have introduced side programmes for students to be able to tackle every component of a threat, including technology and business. They say focusing on cyber security alone is no longer enough.
“The way we introduce it in our security sessions is we need a cyber-security awareness mindset and culture,” said Dr Fadi Aloul, head of computer science and engineering at AUS. “The technology and cyber security game is going much faster than cyber laws or processes are being developed – it’s a cat and mouse game but we need to push it much faster to be protected.”
With technological threats evolving on a daily basis, local organisations are adapting accordingly. “Our goal is for students to have a multidisciplinary view from the management, business and cyber security point of view,” he said. “We need to have the new cyber security generation that can speak the languages of business, data science and technology and security.”
Learning about the business side of cyber security is a key challenge that needs to be overcome across the region.
“I started my career in computer engineering then moved to information security and now I’m in business, banking and finance,” said Thabet Khamis, head of information security at the UAE Central Bank. “I never thought I’d someday do a master’s in banking and finance and I’m looking to go into a PhD in the business aspects of cyber security. We have a 10-year plan in the financial sector to create a sound environment and the more you understand the business, the more it can benefit.”
The UAE computer emergency response team at the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), aeCert, is also training its engineers in the field.
“I’ve worked as an engineer for the past four years but I am now evolving into the business side,” said Mohammad Bushlaibi, a forensic analyst at aeCert. “When I joined the business sector, I saw the security side in a different way and understood some of its language, which is very important.”