Posted on November 21, 2014

The latest trends in cyber-security were shared and how individuals and companies can equip themselves with the tools they need to stay safe online discussed at a Dean’s Panel hosted by Carnegie Mellon University in Qatar (CMUQ), said Gulf Times.

The event was under the patronage of Staff Major General Saad bin Jassim al-Khulaifi, Director General of Public Security at the Ministry of Interior. The panel was attended by Carnegie Mellon faculty, staff and students and the broader community. Moderated by Farnam Jahanian, vice-president of research at Carnegie Mellon, panellists included leaders in the field of cyber-security from Carnegie Mellon who have expertise in a variety of areas, such as how to best protect networking systems, the causes of cyber threats, software regulation and liability.

Carnegie Mellon faculty are working on the development of tools that can be used to clean systems, and educating individual users so they are more intelligent online. The discussions highlighted the shortage of individuals in the field equipped with the technical skills to deal with the multifaceted challenges involved with securing software, which impact all sectors of the economy with ramifications for national and global security. Panellists focused on the opportunity for computer science students to make an impact by producing tools to enable users to better defend themselves online.

“We rely on cyber systems for social interaction, financial transactions, emergency healthcare responses and transportation systems. It is the interdependency of these various challenges, and the increasing complexity of software we use, that leaves us vulnerable to cyber threats,” said Jahanian. “The challenge of cyber-security is not just a computer science problem, it is not just a problem for one industry, government or nation, and we must work in collaboration to address these challenges. Carnegie Mellon is committed to continue playing a part by developing secure, trustworthy, and sustainable computing and communications systems to address this global challenge,” Jahanian added.

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The panellists were: Virgil Gligor, a professor in the department of electrical and computer engineering at Carnegie Mellon and Co-director of the university’s CyLab which establishes public-private partnerships for the research and development of technologies for security, privacy, and resiliency of computing and communication systems; Paul Nielsen, director and CEO of the software engineering institute (SEI), a global leader in software engineering and cyber-security; Richard Pethia, director of the CERT programme at Carnegie Mellon University’s SEI, which conducts research and development activities to produce technology and systems management practices to help organisations recognise, resist, and recover from attacks on networked systems. 

Computing innovations to protect Qatar’s cyber infrastructure was also a key focus of Qatar Foundation’s Annual Research Conference 2014, which concluded on Wednesday. “By bringing experts in the field of cyber-security together, Carnegie Mellon is proud to join other leading organisations across Qatar that are working to protect Qatar’s critical infrastructure. The discussions support the university’s commitment to develop technological and computing research solutions to protect Qatar against cyber vulnerabilities,” said Ilker Baybars, dean of CMUQ.

In April this year, CMUQ also held an Executive Education course targeting local information technology professionals and web developers to better understand challenges in securing web applications within their organisations. The courses were led by Thierry Sans, assistant teaching professor of computer science.