Attendees of the Financial Services Cyber Security Summit, MENA  in Dubai enjoyed the presentation of our Keynote Speaker Ayman Ghannoum, VP Information Security & Business Continuity Risk Management from Arab Bank. Ayman gladly shares the summary of this insightful discussion.

Do you remember the first time you used the World Wide Web?  This month, April 2015, marks the 26th anniversary of the web on which we all have become dependent.

Technology is the biggest challenge to risk and compliance in organizations today.  We have the capacity to do unimaginable things with technology and we often don’t pause and think about our actions, decisions and their consequences. More data has been produced globally in the last five years than ever before, and more individuals and organizations have unprecedented access to data from mobile devices and social networks. This explosion of data has brought many opportunities and significant risks with it. How we all choose to access, store, share and secure that information is a great challenge.

Another issue for organizations today is integrating the new workforce, which has grown up on social media and mobile technologies and has a whole different set of values around privacy, security and information sharing. Important aspects of their lives are out on the social media sites in ways that we would not have imagined in the past. A common understanding of how technology has changed the risk landscape will hopefully help connect with young people entering the workforce, as they will be the leaders of the future.

This is the age of information as we all know, and at this stage we are moving fast towards a more and more transparent world which will expose our secrets and our business decisions which we now think are safe from prying eyes. Transparency exposes important issues, such as conflicts of interest, which were not so obvious before. What’s more, harsh economic cycles tend to expose even more issues and gaps as individuals and organizations are pressed to do more with less.

Cyber threats are increasing exponentially in today’s world and we have to be ever vigilant. Emerging threats weigh heavily in the technology domain and include issues related to social media, mobile technology, cybercrime, espionage, privacy and hacktivism (hacking for political reasons). Emerging cases spread throughout the headlines providing a plethora of lessons to learn from.

Cyber defense is getting much more difficult by the day, and many security experts estimate that offense is at least 10 years ahead of defense. Some go as far as claiming that there are two kinds of companies; some have been compromised and know it, and some have been compromised and don’t know it.

Earlier cyber defense paradigms which have relied heavily on prevention technologies have all proven ineffective against the more recent advanced persistent threats or APTs. Today, the new paradigm relies on people, skills, and experience and on organizational structures which empower efficient threat detection and response. Retaining and attracting experienced generals and skilled soldiers, while recognizing and curbing security charlatans, is the name of the new game. Machines don’t protect organizations, people do.

About Ayman Ghannoum

Ayman Ghannoum is a seasoned, highly skilled professional with over 10 years of extensive experience in Info and Technology Risk Management at corporate level. Ayman currently holds the position of Head of InfoSec and Business Continuity Risk Management at the Arab Bank Group.

Given his experience and unique skill set, it is no surprise that Ayman was selected to deliver a keynote presentation during the prestigious Financial Services Cyber Security Summit Middle East and North Africa, held in Dubai in March 2015.