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NYIT Hosts First Global Cybersecurity Conference in Abu Dhabi

March 25, 2014

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates - New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) held its first Global Cybersecurity Conference here today, which was inaugurated by His Excellency Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, 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, banking and finance executives, and others across these fields from the U.S., China, the United Arab Emirates and throughout the 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 one-day 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 prestigious keynote speakers, as well as President Guiliano and other NYIT officials such as Nada Marie Anid, Ph.D., dean of NYIT’s School of Engineering and Computing Sciences. Information technology experts from as far away as Nanjing University of Posts and Telecommunications, a partner of NYIT in China, participated in the meetings.

NYIT has a history of hosting cybersecurity events at its New York City campus. Today’s event at Abu Dhabi’s InterContinental Hotel, held in conjunction with the HCT, was its first cybersecurity conference with a truly worldwide reach.

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.

Another keynote speaker, Mohamed Al Ahbabi, Ph.D., an information and computer technology (ICT) advisor to the U.A.E. Armed Forces’ Centre of Excellence, spoke on cybersecurity strategies at the national level, emphasising the importance of protecting critical infrastructure. He added that making the ICT sector safe from cyber attacks promotes a nation’s economic growth. Dr. Al Ahbabi highlighted the UAE’s efforts in these areas, such as establishing the National Electronic Security Authority.

The afternoon keynote speaker, Parag Pruthi, Ph.D., founder, chairman, and CEO, NIKSUN Inc., described “the dawn of a new era” in which rogue governments seek political control over other countries by launching sophisticated cyber attacks.

Throughout the day, conference delegates also benefited from panel discussions about protecting financial assets and, perhaps even more important, training young cyber professionals.

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.

“We are pleased to be working with NYIT regarding this conference, which will encourage the development of the next generation of highly skilled security experts for our nation,” Dr. Kamali added.

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.