Gulf Critical Infrastructure: Protecting What Matters Most

Richard Staynings with Padam Kafle, Head Of Information Technology & Automation, Aster Hospitals, UAE, Nada Chehab, Director of Clinical Education, American Hospital Dubai, Dr Mustafa Hasan Qurban Ph.D, CIO of King Fahd Military Medical Complex, Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Yahya, CIO, American Hospital Dubai, & Himanshu Puri, CIO, Kings College Hospital London UAE.

Protecting GCC critical infrastructure industries from increasingly frequent and ever more devastating cyber-attacks is a concern for many of us. But when attackers focus their attention on medical systems that keep people alive, then it becomes a major concern for every GCC national government and a matter of national security.

Growing digital interoperability of health information technology has combined with a massive increase in connected medical devices and a rising popularity of medical wearables, to greatly expand the potential attack surface. Highly valuable PHI, PII, clinical research, and innovative new procedures has made the theft of healthcare data very lucrative for both cyber criminals and pariah nation states. 

The criticality of national critical industries including healthcare has also made the industry a popular target for ransomware cyber-extortion gangs as well as proxies for pariah nation states wishing to coerce or to send a less than diplomatic message to the peoples and governments of nations that refuse to back totalitarian autocracy and global power plays. 

2021 set new record highs for global healthcare data breaches. An increase of 32% over 2020. But the risk is not just data theft, extortion and other attacks against systems availability are now a major risk to patient safety. In 2021, governments worldwide saw a 1,885% increase in ransomware attacks, and the health care industry faced a 755% increase in ransomware attacks. The threats are plainly increasing but are we adopting the right approach to cyber defence?

Richard Staynings gives the opening keynote to a packed house of technology senior executives from across the GCC region at the Shangri-La in Dubai.

This was the subject to my opening keynote address to the CIO Middle East Conference in Dubai today where I had the pleasure to address the region's top executives technology and security leaders including a healthcare panel with Padam Kafle, Head Of Information Technology & Automation, Aster Hospitals, UAE, Nada Chehab, Director of Clinical Education, American Hospital Dubai, Dr. Mustafa Hasan Qurban Ph.D, CIO of King Fahd Military Medical Complex Saudi Arabia, Ahmad Yahya, CIO, American Hospital Dubai, & Himanshu Puri, CIO, Kings College Hospital London UAE.

Balancing patient-centric care and privacy protection with new cybersecurity risks is a new concept to much of the Gulf, but risks are a growing concern and a major distraction from improving patient care and outcomes which help to drive improvements in population health.

Richard Staynings with Salwa Hawath from Misor UAE, Gary Sorrentino, Global CIO Zoom, and catching up with Himanshu Puri CIO of Kings College Hospital London UAE after their healthcare panel together.

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