A view from the Conference Chair, Dr. Adrian Davis, CISSP, Managing Director (EMEA) (ISC)²
From an examination of how augmented humans will live, work and play, to policy commitments from the Irish government, (ISC)²’s Third Annual Congress EMEA delegates gained a comprehensive view of the changing world to be faced by cybersecurity professionals.
The international community of 250 members and information security professionals started to gather the evening before the event for our member reception and Town Hall Q&A. These events presented a well appreciated opportunity to hear from four serving members of our Board of Directors from outside the United States: Greg Mazzone, Freddy Tan, Richard Nealon and Board Chair Wim Remes. With CEO David Shearer, attendees heard about new services and resources for members and how (ISC)² is strategically working to enhance global relevance and recognition for our members. The evening, well attended by over 150 of the delegates, served to set a convivial tone for the coming days.
Hosted within the historically significant Croke Park Stadium, the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association and the site of ‘Bloody Sunday’ in the Irish War of Independence, our formal Congress agenda kicked off with an eye-opening review of the Irish Rebellion from (ISC)² Board Director Richard Nealon, who interpreted the lessons from his country’s history and how they apply for security management today, including the need to heed intelligence, employ professionals and assure a proportionate response.
The event also proved to be a fitting platform for Minister Denis Naughten, Ireland’s Minister responsible for communications, to announce his intention to establish a National Cyber Security Centre, and open a public consultation on implementing the EU’s Directive on the security of network and information systems. Citing that the Centre will be essential to assuring a risk management process is in place for Ireland’s plans to roll out broadband fibre-to-the-home and 5G mobile telephony services throughout the country including rural areas, he also took to the time to emphasize the need for greater skills and awareness right across society and showed genuine interest in Safe and Secure Online’s new pact with Paws Inc. and Garfield.
“This particular initiative is to be complimented and welcomed because it provides schools and young people with the opportunity to highlight the risks of the security issues that are there in a way that is responsible so that people take the correct approach but are not too afraid to use the technology and exploit it to its full potential,” Minister Naughten said.
Many of the keynotes throughout the two days illustrated how the world is developing on the foundations of the broadband and digital capabilities. Financial Times columnist and Author Ade McCormack focussed on how the digital era has humans and society evolving with work and life being “highly integrated and highly mobile” and power moving from employers to employees as the traditional management hierarchies and upwardly mobile careers path disappear: “Leadership will be all about people who are good at finding and creating talent.”
Professor Nick Hawes, from the University of Birmingham shared pioneering work that robots —computers on wheels, as he described them — are doing to monitor office behaviour or support social care workers, as they develop the capability to perceive and take action. Former Royal Marine and former Head of Resilience at utility giant E.ON, Barrie Millett, portrayed the role that technology is increasingly playing in enabling physical attack and in defending against it, as he described how his team was able to anticipate and minimise a protest at a power sub-station. “We need to stop working in silos and create a big-team approach. We must combine resources if we are going to understand the threats and the dynamics of how they are perpetrated,” challenged Millet.
Another glimpse of how society is developing came from a panel of 13 and 16 -year olds who shared how they and their friends’ are growing up with social media, sharing passwords, and the scale of inappropriate pictures and messages that are used to embarrass each other. Many of the sessions highlighted that the debate over data protection, privacy, and threat to civil liberties, are really starting to have a significant impact on security practitioners. Digital Rights’ Ireland Chair, TJ McIntyre, gave a session on the Post-Snowden era and listed the European countries that were moving to extend capabilities for monitoring communication data, pointing out that the USA is far more transparent than Europe and challenging the room to think about whether we should be “creating powers that we would not be happy to see in our opponents”. And the room received a genuine wake-up call from attorney Alain Bensoussan, speaking on the GDPR panel as he declared that technical security wasn’t important to the regulation, followed by interaction with the audience that clearly demonstrated the gulf between legal expectation and a lack of practical understanding around how to meet it.
Overall, in speaking to delegates over the two days, and during the pre-conference workshops, I was impressed by the genuine appreciation for the breadth of the programme, and the sense of community from people who recognised they were clearly facing similar challenges. This wasn’t just another event.