International Workshops on Internet Security: Enhancing Information Exchange Safeguards
International Workshops on Internet Security: Enhancing Information Exchange Safeguards
Ensuring secure information exchange in cyberspace for facilitating sustainable socio-economic development in the South

Challenges

The 21stCentury has seen rapid advancements in information technology and telecommunications, particularly in computing hardware and software. As a result, smaller, less expensive and more efficient equipment is available to organizations, businesses and individuals. However, the widespread use of electronic devices and equipment for commercial, social and personal activities on the Internet has raised many privacy and security concerns. The frequency of cyberattacks has increased significantly, and the nature of security risks is constantly evolving. Malicious cyberactivity has caused serious financial damages, amounting to billions of dollars. There is an increasing demand to ensure the security of data transfer services in traditional and emerging Internet-based applications by preventing unauthorized access, misuse, modification or denial of information and information systems. Internet and information security can be ensured by adopting consistent policies and practices and employing the relevant technical measures. 

Towards a Solution

To address this challenge, the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS), the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), and the Inter Islamic Network on Information Technology (INIT) organized a series of eight training workshops to raise awareness in the field of Internet and information security in developing countries, particularly in their member States. 

 

The aim of these workshops was to provide a forum for young scientists and professionals from developing countries to learn about the latest advancements in Internet security; promote the use of state-of-the-art technologies to protect network and network-accessible resources from malicious attacks; and identify effective Internet and information security solutions for the general public, governmental organizations and commercial ventures. Theaddressed the following Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)SDG 4 on quality educationSDGon decent work and economic growthSDGon industry, innovation and infrastructure; and SDG17 on partnerships for the Goals. 

 

The workshops were held in Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Qatar, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey and the United Republic of Tanzania. For each workshop, COMSATS selected a panel of fiveor sixexperts in the field of Internet and information security, originally from Pakistan but working at various universities and commercial organizations in Pakistan, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates and other countries. Participants from the host country included researchers, practitioners, academics, executives, system administrators, system programmers and students working in the field of Internet and information security and cryptography. Approximately 10 to 15foreign participants belonging to ISESCO and INIT member States also participated in each workshopThe events therefore facilitated the systemic and cross-country transfer of information, knowledge and good practices. 

 

Each workshop included technical presentations, tutorials and hands-on training sessions conducted by designated subject experts and covering the major aspects of Internet and information security, including theoretical understanding of cryptographic algorithms, practical subtleties of network systems and related managerial and technical issues. In addition, network security tools were demonstrated to provide participants with opportunities to update their knowledge base and interact with experts for further collaborative undertakings. 

 

COMSATS selected and financially sponsored the subject experts designated to conduct the training sessions of each workshopThe local participants were selected and supported by host institutes. ISESCO and INIT selected and sponsored the additional foreign participants from their respective member countries. The technical programme and training manuals for each event were prepared by the designated experts and approved by the partners. 

The workshops covered the following key topics: information security risk assessment and managementnetwork security with regard to modern attacks, evasion techniques and defencesmalicious code analysis and detectionmeasuring securityethical issues of information and communications technology securityorganizational security standards, policies and guidelinescryptographic techniques for network securityweb securitysocial network securitycloud computing security; and digital forensics procedures and tools. 

 

To date, the initiative has benefited approximately 350young researchers, academics, system administrators and cybersecurity professionals belonging to various developing and least developed countries. The beneficiaries also included a significant number of female scientists and professionals, ensuring gender balance. Participants came from the following countries: Algeria, Bangladesh, Brunei Darussalam, Côte d’Ivoire, Egypt, The Gambia, Indonesia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Jordan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Maldives, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Qatar, the State of Palestine, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab RepublicTunisia, Turkey, the United Arab Emirates, the United Republic of Tanzania and Uzbekistan. 

 

Courses and certifications on Internet and information security are generally expensive and unaffordable for developing countries. In some cases, individuals must travel to another city or country to attend trainingsCOMSATS, ISESCO and INIT took an innovative approach to addressing these challenges by focusing on building capacity in their common member countriesAs a result, the workshops conducted under this series were free of cost, convenient and easily accessible for the researchers and practitioners from developing countries.  

 

The workshops generated a chain reaction by training Master Trainers who passed on the knowledge and skills acquired during the events to their peers, subordinates and students at professional organizations and universities in their home countries, thereby ensuring the sustainability of the initiative. The beneficiaries are using the knowledge gained to make effective contributions to their respective organizations and countries. The first workshop held in the Syrian Arab Republic in 2011 has since been replicated in seven other developing countries. The list is given below: 

  • First International Workshop held from 23 to 27 July 2011 in Damascus, Syrian Arab Republic; 
  • Second International Workshop held from 16 to 20 September 2012 in Amman, Jordan; 
  • Third International Workshop held from 9 to 13 December 2013 in Nabeul, Tunisia; 
  • Fourth International Workshop held from 19 to 23 October 2014 in Dar es Salaam, Tanzania; 
  • Fifth International Workshop held from 14 to 18 September 2015 in Ankara, Turkey; 
  • Sixth International Workshop held from 19 to 23 December 2016 in Rabat, Morocco; 
  • Seventh International Workshop held from 19 to 23 December 2017 in Almaty, Kazakhstan; 
  • Eighth International Workshop held from 23 to 27 December 2018 in Doha, Qatar. 
 
 

The course contents have been updated regularly to keep pace with changing global scenarios. This programme could easily be replicated in other developing countries. 

Contact Information

Name: Mr Tajammul Hussain, Title: Advisor of Programmes, Organization: Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS) Headquarters; Name: Mr Farhan Ansari, Title: Senior Assistant Director of Programmes, Organization: COMSATS Headquarters

Countries involved

Jordan, Kazakhstan, Morocco, Qatar, Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, Turkey, United Republic of Tanzania

Supported by

Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS)

Implementing Entities

COMSATS, ISESCO and INIT

Project Status

Ongoing

Project Period

2011 - 2021

URL of the practice

https://bit.ly/2GI1E8w

Primary SDG

09 - Industry, Innovation and Infrastructure

Secondary SDGs

04 - Quality Education, 08 - Decent Work and Economic Growth, 17 - Partnerships for the Goals

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