Conference Report: Global Cybersecurity Forum 2023

The Global Cybersecurity Forum 2023 was held in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. It aimed to establish the context of evolving threats within Cyberspace and the need for multilateral approaches to combatting these. Day 1 commenced with a session where Education was emphasised both for establishing better and safer cyber hygiene whilst also capacity building. Various perspectives were discussed for supply chain fortification, child protection, media, and law enforcement within the cyber realm. Deep dives into the role of psychology in active defence and cyber capacity building were stand out sessions. AI was a major theme that threaded through most sessions but was elaborated in a session dedicated to this critical enabling and defensive technology. A discussion on cyber diplomacy and the importance of multilateral and collaborative action to tackle the challenges in this rapidly expanding realm was held.

On Day 2, the Global Cybersecurity Forum continued with a plenary session on applying lessons from the fight against climate change, where the plan of what to do was formulated in 1972 at the UN Scientific Conference in Stockholm, but it took until the Paris Summit in 2015 when countries committed to targets and took some action. The highlight for the morning sessions was an interactive Cyber Simulation where the audience assumed the role of a company's board and responded to an escalating ransomware attack. The Forum also included a Women in Cybersecurity breakfast and was followed later in the day with a panel discussion on attracting women to this profession. The broader need to attract and retain Cybersecurity talent was highlighted, with a global shortage of some 5.5 million candidates to fill Cybersecurity roles. Other sessions focussed on wellness, the human cost of Cyber insecurity, talent retention strategies, the impacts of online anonymity and security in the Metaverse. The concern around the dip in investment in Cyber startups in 2023 was addressed and government initiatives, opportunities and challenges were discussed. The penultimate session unwrapped the risks with generative AI and the role of AI in cyber defence.

Cyber is all pervasive domain and the security of it requires a multidisciplinary and holistic approach that is guided by regulation that doesn't stifle innovation, grounded in awareness through education, cognisant of the human elements and employing the latest in technology advances to deliver safe, secure, beneficial, and productive spaces.