26 Nov 2021

ISLAMABAD: A two day International Conference on Cyber Warfare & Security (ICCSW-2021) concluded successfully on Wednesday, November 24 at Air University, Islamabad. The President of Islamic Republic of Pakistan Dr. Arif Alvi graced the occasion as Chief Guest whereas the Chief of the Air Staff Air Chief Marshal Zaheer Ahmed Baber Sidhu, Executive Director HEC Dr. Shaista Sohail, Vice Chancellor Air University Air Marshal Javaid Ahmad (retd.) also addressed the participants, emphasizing the importance of cyber security in today's digital world. On the occasion, the country's first-ever National Cyber Security Academy, established at Air University, was also inaugurated by the President in the presence of high-profile dignitaries. Federal Minister for Education Shafqat Mahmood and Vice Chief of the Air Staff Air Marshal Nauman Ali attended the closing ceremony as Guests of honor.

President Dr. Arif Alvi, while addressing the ceremony, declared Cyber Security as a global threat having implications on the National Security of the country. He appreciated industry-academia collaboration, where PAF worked closely with the Air University and HEC in establishing the country's first ever Cyber Security Academy. Terming it as a historic occasion, the President called for the pursuit of excellence in the cyber domain.

PAF Director General C4I Air Vice Marshal Abbas Ghumman, while sharing the cybervision of Pakistan Air Force, briefed about the strategic initiatives and valuable contribution of Pakistan Air Force for making the cyber space of Pakistan secure. He, on behalf of the Chief of Air Staff, also assured Air University of providing due support in its endeavors in cyber security domain. The DG further talked about various initiatives, specially the establishment of PAF’s first cyber security park and full operationalization of the PAF’s cyber command by March next year.

Executive Director HEC Dr Shaista Sohail, in her speech, highlighted that the HEC was upgrading the academic course of cyber security to BS and PhD levels. According to her, introducing it as a mandatory subject in universities is also under consideration for creating awareness among the new generation.

Vice Chancellor Air University Javaid Ahmed, lauding the active support provided by PAF officials, said that his varsity is committed to produce highly-trained and well-qualified cyber security experts to address the emerging cyber security threats being faced by every institution of the country, including armed forces, civil institutions, public and private sector organizations, FinTech, banking sector, media houses and civil society. “The academy would conduct existing and future need-based requirement analysis, in close coordination with industry and stakeholders, to provide informed recommendations to design and upgrade existing courses while also developing new ones for various academic programs starting from elementary schools,” he further stated.

Director National Centre for Cyber Security (NCCS) Dr. Kashif Kifayat, in his speech, informed that the NCCS housed at Air University Islamabad has been established by Government of Pakistan through Higher Education Commission (HEC). “It is actually a consortium of eleven (11) laboratories established in reputed Universities of Pakistan working in different fields of cyber security,” he said.

During the two-day conference, 22 research papers, 6 training workshops, and 2 panel discussions were among the key highlights whereas international delegates and researchers from the US, Turkey, Hungary, Malaysia and other countries also participated enthusiastically in order to share their rich expertise in the field of cyber security.

In the keynote and technical talks delivered throughout the conference, experts from diverse backgrounds shed light on different dimensions of cyber security highlighting the challenges faced and solutions being developed. Research paper presentations during the technical session proposed novel solutions for cyber security related problems in diverse IT fields such as cyber-physical systems, Internet of Things, digital crime forensics and social media etc. Among other highlights of the conference were workshops conducted to provide hands-on training on cyber security tools developed by various NCCS labs across the country.

The first panel discussed cyber security aspects of the FinTech sector, which is an emerging area of the IT industry focusing on providing financial services by modernizing the traditional financial model. Prominent names from the financial sector were accompanied by experts from the cyber security domain for an enlightening and thoughtful discussion on the current situation of FinTech security, and the need of the day to ensure the appropriate steps taken for provision of convenient and secure financial services to the customers. The panelists also hoped that the inauguration of NCSA will be a major step forward in strengthening the country on the cyber front by delivering highly skilled and trained professionals to serve the country’s IT infrastructure.

Another panel comprising key figures from the Government as well as private sectors focused on Pakistan’s cyber security industry, identifying the gaps where work needs to be done in order to boost the output of this industry both locally and globally. Some other interesting topics that came under-discussion were related to organizational cyber security transformation, cryptographic tools, deep learning of malware, cyber security of industrial controlled systems, DDoS attacks detection, cloud confidence, and cyber security for mobility and transport sector.

A good number of academia, industry experts, and representatives from public and private sector also visited the industry exhibition and evinced keen interest in the products including cyber forensic toolkits, secure communication framework, remote monitoring via sensors, and internet security and privacy labs. The exhibitors, expressing satisfaction on the arrangements made by Air University, also hoped that such events will be helpful in strengthening industry-academia linkages and bolstering academic and technical collaboration with technically advanced industries in the world.