By: Safdar Akhtar, director of business development – EMEA, Enterprise Industrial Cybersecurity at Honeywell
Connectivity is at the core of the modern world, driving tremendous opportunities for digital transformation across industries that impact almost every aspect of daily life. Per a recent study, the GCC’s (Gulf Cooperation Council) digital markets are expanding at an overall compound annual growth rate of 12 per cent and it is estimated that digitisation could add as much as US$820 billion to the regional GDP by 2020*.
The rise in digitalisation across different industries brings both opportunities for growth and challenges. The benefits that connected technologies offer far outweigh their risks, but following several high-profile industrial cyber-attacks on organisations worldwide and in the region, we are all aware of the threats posed by gaps in cybersecurity.
As the cybersecurity attacks affecting industrial control systems become more sophisticated it has become critical to ensure full protection of assets and information through a greater focus on digital safeguards. These new threats are driving more spending on industrial cybersecurity -- for example, the Middle East cybersecurity market size is expected to grow from $11.38 billion in 2017 to $22.14 billion by 2022**.
Governments are taking steps to protect the integrity, availability, and privacy of data belonging to public and private institutions, as well as individuals. We support this approach, and strongly believe that having the latest technology in place, combined with workforce education initiatives, will help ensure electronic cybersecurity and protect people, assets, process operations, and data.
In order to help the GCC and the wider region achieve high levels of safety and connectivity, we recently launched an industrial cybersecurity centre of excellence (COE) in Dubai.
The new COE presents a safe, off-process environment to test and demonstrate process control network vulnerabilities and threats, train customers with real-time attack simulations and provide advanced customer consultations.
The facility provides a real-world environment to learn in, allowing us to innovate and augment industrial cybersecurity skills. The centre is part of a wider global network of industrial cybersecurity COEs dedicated to improving technologies for critical infrastructure protection, information technology and operational technology (IT/OT) convergence and digital transformation.
Technology is only part of the solution, however, developing the right capabilities and skills of an organisation’s workforce is also critical. The COE enables us to demonstrate cybersecurity solutions and controls in both attack and defend scenarios, as an educational tool.
Combined with the COE’s distributed control systems, physical plant process, and latest industrial cybersecurity software and solutions, organisations using the facility can also access data analytics and networking equipment capable of supporting unique training sessions, demonstrations, workshops, and cyberattack simulations. The ecosystem that the COE provides trains users on the complete cybersecurity lifecycle approach that encompasses the three critical elements of industrial systems--people, process, and technology.
The COE is constantly evolving and strengthening its capabilities to help companies stay ahead of increasingly complex threats. Such threats are not restricted by geographical borders, which is why the COE uses continuous customer feedback and collaboration with research and development teams from around the world to create integrated security solutions that are global in scope.
For regional organisations, adopting the latest technologies and knowhow is critical to ensure maximum cybersecurity. By implementing state-of-the-art solutions that protect people, assets, operations, and data, organisations in the GCC region can help create a cyber-secure environment where the vast benefits of connectivity and connected technologies can flourish and drive real value across the board.
Biography: Safdar Akhtar
Safdar Akhtar is a director of business development of Enterprise Industrial Cyber Security for Europe Middle East and Africa at Honeywell. He has an extensive background and experience in cyber security across multiple sectors, including Industrial Control Systems and Surveillance & Defence.
Prior to joining Honeywell, Safdar was the global head of systems engineering and business development for Glimmerglass Optical Cyber Solutions, a provider for cyber defence, signal intelligence and Big Data analytics.
Previously Safdar served as a product line manager at Ciena Telecom, where he helped develop optical network simulation/ validation and planning solution. Earlier in his career Safdar was head of Asia for Questor Technology helping expand Chemical Vapor Deposition business across Asia. Safdar received his BS from University of Phoenix.
*Source: strategy& - cybersecurity in the Middle East
**Source: Jebin George, IDC report