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Symantec urges regional policy makers to unite on cyber security

ICT security firm calls for action on regulatory, infrastructure challenges to support smart cities

Symantec urges regional policy makers to unite on cyber security
Symantec urged action on cyber security at the m-Gov Conference in Abu Dhabi.

Cyber-sec mainstay Symantec has called for tighter infrastructure and regulatory frameworks to support ICT security, amid Gulf-wide moves towards e-government, m-government and smart cities.

During a keynote address at the m-Gov Conference in Abu Dhabi, Ilias Chantzos, senior director of Symantec's Government Relations and Public Affairs programmes for Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA), called on regional policy makers and business leaders to address the growing threats from malicious cyber-actors.

"Smart city initiatives are appearing all over the world as policy makers strive to make their cities more competitive and effective for citizens and business communities," said Chantzos. "However, a solid security strategy and regulatory approach must be in place before implementing e-government or m-government services.  One cannot exist without the other. Establishing policies that safeguard end-user information is critical in today's connected world."

Sturdy mobile growth in the UAE has led to a number of initiatives to capitalise on the trend, including m-government and smart city projects initiated by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. Current government department projects cover intelligent transportation, connected healthcare, public safety, emergency services, smart grids and smart metering.

But Symantec highlighted that smart city projects have encountered infrastructure requirements that are becoming increasingly complex, as they leverage hyper-connectivity. The projects often involve co-dependence of a number of technologies, including the Internet of Things (IoT), sensors, RFIDs (radio-frequency IDs) and M2M (machine-to-machine)solutions. The resultant data generation is frequently vast and leads to vulnerability within the different components.

"With the right security policies in place, cyber security threats can be detected, analyzed and removed for a more resilient infrastructure," Chantzos said. "Having an effective strategy to combat such attacks must become an integral component, especially in a country with abundant natural resources and a flourishing economy, such as the UAE, to deal with the rising threat of cybercrime."

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