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CyberX Qatar Summit: An interview with Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO, Doha Bank, Qatar

CyberX Qatar Summit: An interview with Dr. R. Seetharaman, Group CEO, Doha Bank, Qatar

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Dr. R. Seetharaman will join Ibento Global’s CyberX Qatar Summit, which is taking place on 7-8 June 2021. In this interview, Dr. R. Seetharaman discusses his upcoming keynote talk, sharing the CEO’s perspective on – ‘The Making of Cybersecurity Culture’.

Here are some of his thoughts:

What initiatives/projects are on the horizon for your team in 2021?

  • Doha Bank is committed to fostering a stable and efficient cyber environment for its employees, customers and stakeholders by implementing various digital initiatives to make customers comfortable, offer ease of convivence and be x-generation ready.
  • We avoid cyberattacks by establishing a strong information security policy and procedures, as well as an adequate number of skilled security analysts for proactive monitoring of threats and remedial actions.
  • Implementation of technology-based solutions with enhanced security. Awareness on phishing and social engineering attacks to employees.
  • We recently launched digital wallet which is itself unique in the Qatar market and has various payment features. We are enhancing it to have multiple other services at customers’ fingertips. 
  • At the same time these channels and digital platforms need to be equipped with robust cybersecurity aspects such as threat intelligence gathering, timely threat identification and monitoring, ensuring brand reputation is maintained, raising awareness among the employees and the customers are for success.

One question the CEO should ask the CISO?

  • Is the private information of all the customer/ staff and stakeholders being kept safe?

How can CEOs tackle the challenge of cybersecurity in the age of the digitalisation?

Cybersecurity risks are a strategic risk for any organisation. Cybersecurity should be part of strategic technology discussions at the board level. Cyber-risks are now regarded as a leading threat to the global financial system by policymakers. GCC countries saw a sharp spike in financial malware in the first half of 2020. A total of 5,544,299 malware attacks were recorded in GCC in 2019. Qatar endured 439,638 attacks.

There is increased exposure to cyber-risks from Digital Transformation. More and more disruptive advanced technologies are changing the paradigm of banking. At the same time, cyberthreats are increasing rapidly. The more web-based banking channels and interfaces which are available to provide convenient services to customers, the more cyberthreats and challenges. Cyberattacks are capable of deteriorating an institution’s performance and an economy’s growth. Financial, legal and brand are impacted due to cyberattacks. Measures are being taken to address cybersecurity in the light of Digital Transformation. Hence cybersecurity is the backbone of digitisation.

Qatar Central Bank has brought IT Security Strategy and Technology Risk circulars, which will provide directions for the banks to build their strategy while adopting advanced technologies. It also took the initiative for formation of Banking CIRT (Critical incident response team), which will act as a platform for sharing security incidents and enable quick response for its members. The State of Qatar has created cybercrime prevention laws, the National Information Assurance Policy V 2.0, data privacy laws, monitoring bank websites and alert on probable cyberattacks in the country. It has conducted cybersecurity assessments and business viability of banks in Qatar.

Qatar Central Bank has established the Information Security Committee and mandated all the banks that operates in Qatar to be members. The Ministry of Information & Communications Technology, ictQATAR and its arm Qatar Cyber Security Emergency Response Team, QCERT, have played a major role in supporting all the Bank’s in Qatar, including Doha Bank. The Ministry of Interior, MOI, have provided great support in fighting cybercriminals, through its Cyber Crimes Investigation Center. As innovation, emerging technologies and cybersecurity become increasingly important in a digital world, boards of directors are expected to have a broad IT perspective in their oversight role.

The key to addressing cyber-risks and threats is integrating cybersecurity into every phase of the Digital Transformation process. This can be achieved by implementing an effective governance structure with multiple lines of control. Establishing management committees enable effective management and oversight of cybersecurity risks and risk-based decision-making. Assessing cybersecurity risks to (Confidentiality, Integrity, Accuracy) CIA from the inception of the projects, including those risks from third parties; and ensuring that access to right cybersecurity skill at the right time. Compliance with QCB on cybersecurity matters.

What do you hope attendees will take aware from your session?

  • I will be focusing on the strategic objectives that every organisation should work on to provide the foundation for protecting against, preparing for, detecting, responding to and recovering from cyber incidents and attacks.

Objective 1: Establish a robust governance and risk management process.

Objective 2: Safeguard the bank’s critical information assets (CIA) and comply data privacy requirements.

Objective 3: Strengthen systems and increase surveillance /security monitoring to identify a cyber security event.

Objective 4: Enhance measures to limit the impact of and quick recover from cyber security incident.

Objective 5: Foster a culture of cybersecurity that promotes safe and appropriate use of cyberspace across the stake holders.

Objective 6: Contribute towards strengthening financial sector resilience at national / regional / global level.

What are you most looking forward to at CyberX Qatar 2021? 

  • This is the platform wherein our community/stakeholders learn what’s happening in the industry, experiences of leaders and their strategies on effective handling of cyber-risk while ensuring business growth
  • I’ll also take the opportunity to learn from well-known speakers and also build Doha Bank’s knowledge sharing brand in the cybersecurity segment.

Register for #cyberxqatar and watch Dr. R. Seetharaman live, sharing his vision and success stories.

This virtual summit has been created to satisfy the industry’s need to share cutting-edge research, learn from peers and engage in quality networking within a niche and highly selective audience to forge valuable collaborations. Enjoy a stellar line-up of speakers guaranteed to make you feel inspired and informed.

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