GISPP recently arranged a Panel Discussion to discuss and address the gaps between Information Security Industry and Academia. The Panel Discussion featured distinguished panellists in key leadership positions from Educational Institutes and the Cyber Security Industry sector.
The panel discussion was led and moderated by Asif Riaz who is CEO of Digital Arrays.
Following participants joined us as our distinguished Panelists.
- Athar Ahmed– CISO ( Habib Metro Bank)
- Nazir Malik (Bahria University)
- Razi Farooqui– GM Information Security (K-Electric)
- Asad Arfeen– Head of NCCS NED UET
The session started off by discussing a very positive initiative where Pakistani universities are having support and substantial funds from the Higher Education Commission (HEC), to develop an indigenous capacity to serve the increasing demands of cyber security in the country.
Dr. Asad and Dr. Nazir shed light on the two HEC funding phases where more than 42 Universities contributed not only from Academia but also from the industry. In the first phase, 27 Universities were shortlisted followed by another phase where the top 10 universities were selected. Bahria University is one of the ten selected aimed at the indigenous development of an IDS solution.
The prototype comprises both software and hardware components. Another key focus area for Bahria is to develop an HR skillset for an efficient technical workforce. Furthermore, the in-house lab is developing an open source threat intelligence with a budget-intensive but practical approach.
Mr. Athar discussed the efforts of the Pakistan government and shared an example of how NUST has made massive progress in particular. On the topic of knowledge-based economy, he highlighted the fact that knowledge-based economy is based on several primary factors, e.g literacy rate being the most significant among all.
The literacy rate he stressed, is something where a lot of focus is required for a knowledge-based economy. He highlighted the importance of local industry’s involvement to contribute funding in order to develop the grass-root research. He then highlighted the importance of an automated and robust solution for effective infrastructure security which not only will encourage the continued use of technology but also nurture healthy technological competition.
Mr. Razi added on to the same point and shed more light upon the grass-root research but at the same time draw the audience’s attention towards the aspect of incentivizing young human resources and technology startups where the industry can equally contribute. Furthermore, he directed the discussion toward data privacy and compliance which opens more avenues for the development of new and commercially viable products.
Dr. Nazir took a stab at the shortage of human resources in the information security domain and highlighted the importance of research conducted directly by industry, not academia. He gave a practical example from his experience in the UK, where he worked in a consortium of 20 industrial partners who joined hands with one university, and the fund was provided by Vodafone and a very effective and commercially viable product was developed.
Dr. Asad answered a question about the SIEM solution developed by NED UET, with funding obtained from HEC, saying he approached the industry as step one with the notion of developing indigenous products and the concept was warmly welcomed by the industry.
Then the topic of teaching the courses around cyber security was discussed by esteemed panellists and Mr.Razi emphasized the importance of courses around SCADA Control Systems focusing on the industry standards. These courses he said can develop the resources which can be immediately deployed in the industry.
The session was concluded with a consensus among the panellists that the Industry Leaders should drive and sponsor innovation and should focus on Long Term vision. Mr. Athar specifically stressed focusing on technologies like Artificial Intelligence(AI) which are still under development and not very saturated already.