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NYIT held its first Global Cybersecurity Conference in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates on March 25, 2014. The day-long conference, organized by the School of Engineering and Computing Sciences, was inaugurated by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan (pictured above, center), U.A.E. Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development. HE Sheikh Nahayan praised the interconnectivity made possible by the internet and insisted that we should all be concerned in protecting it.
NYIT’s conference welcomed cyber defense professionals, information technologists, academicians, banking and finance executives, and others across these fields from the U.S., China, the United Arab Emirates and the greater Middle East/North Africa region.
It has been estimated that cybercrime costs more than $113 billion annually, with 378 million victims—more than the entire population of the Middle East. In addition, the U.A.E. recently disclosed plans to nearly double its security budget in the coming decade, with most of the increase to be used for cyber security.
The conference was held under the theme of National and Corporate Threats, Protection, and Education. Edward Guiliano, Ph.D., NYIT’s president since 2000 (pictured above, right), delivered opening remarks, asserting that higher education is “a core component in heightening cybersecurity.”
More than 200 attendees, including faculty and students from NYIT, the Higher Colleges of Technology (HCT) and other universities across the country, gathered insights from experts including highly reputed keynote speakers, as well as President Guiliano and other members of NYIT administration such as Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D. (above, left), dean of NYIT’s SoECS. Information technology experts from the UAE, the U.S., England, Sweden, and Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications in Nanjing China, a partner of NYIT, participated in the meetings.
The majority of speakers, panelists, and moderators at the conference are representatives of important technology companies, many of which have a history of collaboration and partnership with NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. For example, the afternoon keynote speaker, Parag Pruthi, Ph.D., founder, chairman, and CEO, NIKSUN Inc., a forensics-based cybersecurity solutions company, gave a compelling lecture on “the dawn of a new era” in which rogue governments seek political control over other countries by launching sophisticated cyber attacks.
Keynote speaker Daniel R. Ennis, who runs the U.S. National Security Agency/Central Security Service’s Threat Operations Center, advocated cooperation among governments, academia, and industry, in spite of challenges such as privacy issues, business competition, and governments’ traditional secrecy. He pushed for “a fundamental maturing of the public, private, and academic partnership” in order to provide cybersecurity, a mission Ennis compared to counterterrorism.
Other valuable insights came from a diverse array of cybersecurity professionals, many of whom are executives at companies that are represented on the Dean’s Executive Advisory Board, or board members themselves. Representatives include Ron Mraz, President of OWL Computing Technologies; Edward J. Chance, the Director of UK, France and Emerging Markets for Dell SecureWorks; Luke Forsyth, VP of Security Services for CA Technologies; Henrik Davidsson, the Director of Security Sales at Juniper Networks; Nadhem Al-Fardan, a Systems Analyst for Cisco; and Ragy Madgdy, IBM’s Middle East Regional Sales Leader for IBM Security Systems.
Throughout the day, conference delegates also benefited from panel discussions about protecting financial assets and, perhaps even more important, training young cyber professionals. SoECS offers several options for students interested in pursuing a career in cybersecurity. For example, undergraduate Computer Science majors have the option of adding a concentration in Network Security or Big Data Management and Analytics, and the Information Technology major also offers concentrations in Information and Network Security. NYIT also is pioneering the field of cybersecurity at the graduate level by offering a M.S. degree in Information, Network, and Computer Security.
Tayeb Kamali, Ph.D., vice chancellor of the Higher Colleges of Technology, said the cybersecurity conference will help to prepare U.A.E. nationals for careers in the vital and growing field of security and other security-related sectors. “The many students who attended the conference will gain valuable insights into cybersecurity from industry experts around the world. This will result in empowering Emirati students with the knowledge, skills, and confidence to contribute effectively to our nation and to reach their full potential,” he said.
NYIT’s Abu Dhabi campus was established in 2005 as the first licensed and accredited American university in the U.A.E. capital. Nearly 600 NYIT graduates, some of whom also attended today’s conference, now play their part in the U.A.E.’s growing economy, working in private and public organizations across the country.