India Insights with Varun Haran

CISO Trainings , Governance & Risk Management , Training & Security Leadership

Inside Dubai's MESA Security Event

Middle East Security Awards Look to Set Tone for InfoSec in the Region
Inside Dubai's MESA Security Event

I am in Dubai this week, gearing up for the Middle East Security Awards, or MESA, conference. The two-day gathering looks to be a great place to connect with security leaders from the region, and I am looking forward to some rich insight on the security landscape in the Middle East.

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MESA is supported by industry associations across the Middle East, including (ISC)2, ISACA, CISO Council, Digital Risk Alliance and Cyber Management Alliance, to name a few. The stated aim is honoring key cybersecurity leaders for their contributions and innovative approach in securing the region's enterprises.

Better collaboration, thought leadership and information sharing are priorities in almost any security market around the world, but especially so in fast-growing markets such as Asia and the Middle East. 

The May 24-25 conference is the first MESA conference, and is hosted at the Address Dubai Marina Hotel in Dubai. The organizers expect more than 150 CISOs and senior security practitioners from across the region to attend, with a view to improve collaboration and information sharing.

Better collaboration, thought leadership and information sharing are priorities in almost any security market around the world, but especially so in fast-growing markets such as Asia and the Middle East. Industry-driven events such as MESA could bridge a critical gap by bringing together security leadership and industry players to discuss various industry challenges.

"We strongly believe that increased collaboration in the cybersecurity industry could improve cybersecurity and resilience while addressing various policy issues," says Ahmed Qurram Baig, founder of the CISO Council, who is closely involved with organizing the event. "This collaboration could also be extended between business and public leaders to progress further towards cyber resiliency."

Conference: Hot Sessions

The conference lineup includes more than 20 sessions, which look to be uniquely aligned to the context of Middle East security issues. Among the notable international speakers are Dr. Amirudin Bin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia, a rising star in the region for evangelizing cybersecurity issues. He will deliver the keynote on the opening day addressing the need for information sharing and collaboration, setting the tone for the conference.

Other sessions I look forward to, which are tailored exclusively to a CISO's needs, include a session by Biju Hameed, head of information security and compliance at Dubai Airports, on the traits of the proactive CISO, followed by a noon panel discussion moderated by Ahmed Baig: "Reviewing the Role of the New Age Chief Security & Risk Officer - The Learning and the Unlearning Needed," which has a rich roster of panelists.

The second panel of the day - "The Banking Guru" - also sounds promising, given the rise of breaches at banks in the region, including Qatar National Bank and InvestBank UAE. I am particularly interested to hear what challenges banking CISOs in the region are facing and the measures they are considering in the wake of recent breach incidents.

Privacy is also a topic featured on the first day, with the last session being a panel discussion: "At the Intersection of Privacy, Safety and Security - How to Find Common Ground?" The session will look at the challenges involved for CISOs when it comes to balancing privacy and security.

In addition to the sessions, the awards ceremony will offer some real-world examples of interesting security work. Stay tuned for our coverage from the awards, including interviews and reports.

The first session from day two that grabs my attention is a panel discussion on "The Future of Cybersecurity" for this region. Another session of interest is: "Fact Not FUD - Security Metrics and Analytics Driving the Security Initiatives and Actions?"

Other forward-looking sessions on day two will address IoT, digital forensics and legal perspectives on cybersecurity. The day will end with a group activity, which is the roundtable session. I am anticipating this will be the highlight of the day, from my experience of our own "InfoSec conversation" sessions at Information Security Media Group's events in the region (see: Insider Threat Remains a Top Concern).

I am optimistic that this event will differentiate itself from others because it's largely industry-driven. I look forward to sharing insights from the conference with our readers. And if you happen to be attending, drop me a line - I'd be delighted to hear your take on where Middle East information security is headed.

About the Author

Varun Haran

Varun Haran

Managing Director, Asia & Middle East, ISMG

Haran has been a technology journalist in the Indian market for over six years, covering the enterprise technology segment and specializing in information security. He has driven multiple industry events such as the India Computer Security Conferences (ICSC) and the first edition of the Ground Zero Summit 2013 during his stint at UBM. Prior to joining ISMG, Haran was first a reporter with TechTarget writing for SearchSecurity and SearchCIO; and later, correspondent with InformationWeek, where he covered enterprise technology-related topics for the CIO and IT practitioner.

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