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By Aloysius Cheang, chief security officer (CSO), Huawei UAE

With the acceleration of the digital era, cybersecurity and data privacy continue to be of great importance for organizations and governments, with security officers now represented at board and cabinet levels. There is now an urgent need for collaboration across sectors to address pressing cybersecurity concerns.

At Huawei, we believe the UAE's efforts to prioritize cybersecurity are essential for the nation’s digital transformation. Through the UAE Cybersecurity Council, the country is setting new standards for the region and the world on how to digitally transform a country in the connected, intelligent era as well as turning the UAE into a trusted digital oasis. This is based on the realization that cybersecurity is critical in forging a secure and trustworthy smart ecosystem built on AI, 5G, cloud and many other cutting-edge technologies.

Huawei endeavors to support the UAE in all these digital transformation initiatives, leading by example to provide cybersecurity thought leadership for these technologies in the industry. Our work with the UAE's Cybersecurity Council demonstrates how collaboration can lead to win-win scenarios. In March of this year, the Council signed an MoU with Huawei to strengthen strategic cybersecurity collaboration based on the public-private partnership (PPP) model. The partnership seeks to promote cybersecurity innovation, develop cybersecurity capabilities and nurture a robust cybersecurity ecosystem. In addition, the agreement aimed to create an open, transparent and trustworthy environment between the UAE Government and technology vendors.

Secondly, regular engagement with the cybersecurity ecosystem is vital to building capabilities for all. Huawei recently took part in the 3rd edition of the Cyber Security Innovation Series (CSIS) UAE Chapter, endorsed by the UAE Cybersecurity Council. The CSIS hosts in-depth discussions around national, political and economic interests to promote favorable policies, procedures and solutions for cyber and IT executives. During the event, Huawei joined industry leaders and key influencers within the cybersecurity space and participated in various panel discussions as well, delivering keynotes on trending security topics that included cybersecurity challenges of the future; best practices and effective strategies to create a cyber-safe society; and why cloud security is important for businesses.

To further affirm Huawei's growing profile in the cybersecurity space, Huawei was awarded the "Cyber Security Company of the Year 2022" for the second year running, while the Huawei Enterprise Business Group (EBG) took home the "Best Enterprise Security Solution of the Year 2022" award. The awards were presented by His Excellency Dr. Mohamed Al-Kuwaiti, chairman of the UAE Cybersecurity Council. The recognition demonstrates Huawei's position as a regional cybersecurity thought leader, strengthens trust with all stakeholders in the ecosystem and enhances regional customers' confidence in Huawei.

Moreover, Huawei's partnership with the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation – Computer Emergency Response Teams (OIC-CERT) demonstrates our vision of open collaboration to tackle security challenges. As a member of OIC-CERT, Huawei worked with other stakeholders to develop and deliver the OIC-CERT 5G Security Framework in OIC member countries to help safeguard their journeys to 5G. This is especially important because OIC member states need their standards and guidelines to build regional multilateral norms, which are essential to ensure continuity, availability, resilience and cyberspace sovereignty for Islamic nation-states in this increasingly fragmented world.

As a leading global provider of ICT infrastructure and smart devices, we must also ensure our products are trustworthy and secure. Our solutions are developed and delivered by observing security-by-design and privacy-by-design principles that empower our customers to safeguard their digital futures. This cybersecurity leadership is built on innovation; Huawei has allocated US$750 million to cybersecurity, and 1,500 company employees work full-time in this field.

As cybersecurity professionals, we take pride in seeing security get its due recognition as a critical business enabler and the Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) recognized for their unique value, their ability to switch effortlessly between communicating technically and speaking the language of risk to their peers on the executive management team and the board simultaneously. As we gaze into the crystal ball of our digital future, we herald the age of the CISO, where the CISO of tomorrow is the last line of defense to protect our digital assets in a world where data is the new oil.

But we must ensure our efforts are grounded in reality and not lost amid the fancy titles and trends. This is true when you look at modern cyberspace, which is littered with jargon, trends and newfangled concepts. From the "Metaverse", which prompted Facebook to change its corporate name to Meta, to the various other nomenclature such as "Industry 4.0", "deep tech", or even "digital future", there's no shortage of fads in the industry. Even the cybersecurity industry has developed its own set of terminologies such as "Zero Trust," "Trusted Supply Chain" and "APT," among others.

Amid all the buzzwords and fads, one should not forget that solid fundamentals will always prevail. When the going gets tough, go back to the basics; cybersecurity muscle memory will subconsciously repeat a specific set of processes and procedures with improved efficiency and accuracy acquired through practice and repetition, which reduces the margin of error and streamlines processes and procedures in any cybersecurity function.

Ultimately, the aim is to forge a robust security posture for all organizations. However, this means managing the delicate balancing act between processes, technology and people. Humans remain the weakest link in this triangle, with recent findings showing that 88% of cyber breaches involve human error. To address the human factor, it's crucial to invest in the public's cybersecurity literacy, which involves more regular user education programs and, more importantly, fostering a culture of security in your organization. Indeed, solid capacity-building for the youth in the cybersecurity domain is a pre-requisite in today's digital world, as is upgrading and upskilling for experienced hires or anyone considering a mid-career switch. 

The cybersecurity challenge is complex. Huawei believes cybersecurity is a shared responsibility that cannot be addressed by one person, organization or nation alone. Huawei is ready to contribute its know-how and collaborate in an open, transparent and collaborative platform with all cyberspace stakeholders to ensure end-to-end cybersecurity that will be critical to realizing our vision of building a fully connected, intelligent world.

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