The Inter Islamic Network on Information Technology (INIT) successfully convened 5 – day International Training Workshop on ‘Internet Security: Enhancing Information Exchange Safeguards’ from December 19 – 23, 2016 at Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco. The other collaborating partner institutions with INIT included Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO); and the Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS). This was the 6th edition of this very successful Workshop being organized since 2011. The earlier editions of the Workshop were held in Syria (2011), Jordan (2012), Tunisia (2013), Tanzania (2014), and Turkey (2015).
The Workshop was inaugurated by Dr. Tariq Mahmood, Director (Sciences), ISESCO. During his inaugural address, Dr. Tariq Mahmood warmly welcomed the foreign experts and participants of the Workshop. He expressed his gratitude for the experts and participants for ensuring their participation. He stated that the rate of evolution of Internet is very high, as the world-wide demand of connectivity is increasing, which requires IT experts and cyber security professionals to continuously update their knowledge and skills. While enlightening the critical relationship between the connectivity, confidence, and security, he informed the participants that ISESCO is striving to create a critical mass of IT experts in the Islamic countries, in order to protect information available online. In this regard, he admired the experts/resource persons of the Workshop for traveling long distances in order to train the participating IT professionals and update their skill-sets so that they in turn can effectively perform their duties, and possibly contribute as master trainers in their respective organizations/countries in the future. He hoped that the Workshop will be able to achieve the desired results. He also expressed his gratitude for the INIT and COMSATS as the collaborating partners of the event with ISESCO.
Engr. Tahir Naeem, Executive Director, INIT welcomed the participants and resource persons to the Workshop. He briefly introduced the audience about the establishment, objectives, and programs of INIT and encouraged them to benefit from the wide range of activities being organized by INIT. He also apprised the participants about the the outreach of the 5 earlier editions of this Workshop wherein over 160 practitioners from around 50 countries have been trained. While emphasizing the importance and vital role of Interconnectivity, he stated that a Network’s strength is based on the effective interconnectivity of its nodes which include (from INIT’s perspective) scientists, professionals, academicians, I.T. practitioners, the institutions, the neighbourhoods, and the cities and the countries they come from. Hence, considering making reliance on internet for interconnectivity, calls understanding its strengths. He highlighted the enormous magnitude of the rapidly changing internet and stated that Internet has proved to be a source of real social and economic benefit where access to information shifts economic power from producers to consumers by reducing asymmetric control of and access to information, bringing producers and service providers closer to their users, sharpening competition and benefiting consumers and society in general.
After giving some interesting numbers about the huge usage of internet in different socio-economic sectors, Engr. Tahir Naeem cautioned the audience that if controls are not exercised, it can cause more harm than its benefit and poses a huge risk of exposure to a new domain of misuse and malicious intents. He emphasized equipping ourselves with advanced technologies for safeguarding our digital presence and stressed the need of putting safeguards in place for protection against malicious activities. With a brief overview of the vital areas of internet security being covered under the 5 day’s program of the Workshop, he appreciated the keen rather an over whelming response from INIT member states for sending nominations. He also appreciated the collaborating partners of INIT for their cooperation and specifically thanked ISESCO for making logistics and other allied arrangements for the Workshop. He also thanked the resource persons for the highly valuable time they spared for the Workshop.
Earlier, Mr. Fazal Abbas Maken, Executive Director COMSATS, in his message read out by Mr. Tajammul Hussain, Advisor (Programmes) COMSATS, extended gratitude to organizers, resource persons, and participants of the Workshop. He noted that the general public and organizations/companies rely heavily on computers, laptops and smart phones connected to the Internet for performing various day-to-day activities. He stated that the cloud-based operations require the information/personal documents to be stored on remote servers, which render organizations, particularly businesses and financial institutions, at a higher risk as the stolen internal documents can cause a tremendous amount of financial losses. He, therefore, stressed the need of capacity-building of cyber security professionals and IT experts in order to ensure that the identities, documents and passwords of individuals, organizations and businesses are not compromised. He acknowledged the consistent support of ISESCO and INIT towards COMSATS’ programmes and activities in the common Member States, and looked forward to more fruitful collaboration in future.
The technical sessions of the five-day Workshop were attended by 40 young researchers, academicians, system administrators and cyber security professionals, belonging to Gambia, Iran, Ivory Coast, Palestine, Sudan, Uzbekistan and the Kingdom of Morocco. The event provided an excellent forum to the participating researchers and professionals to learn about the latest advancements in the field of Internet security; use of state-of-the-art technologies for protection of network and network accessible resources from different types of software attacks; and working out effective Internet/information security solutions for general public, governmental organizations and commercial enterprises through rigorous risk analyses and security management approaches.
Speaking at the Concluding Ceremony held on 23rd December 2016, Dr. Tariq Mahmood thanked the subject experts/resource persons of the Workshop for sharing knowledge and expertise with participants. He called for greater collaboration among the developing countries in this important field. Dr. Mahmood thanked the Organizing Committee members from ISESCO, INIT and COMSATS for working hard to make this event a success. He also thanked the local and foreign participants for their active participation during the Workshop. He hoped that the connections made during the Workshop will be maintained for future collaborations and learning. The ceremony concluded with the distribution of certificates by the representatives of ISESCO, COMSATS and INIT among the resource persons, local and foreign participants, and Organizing Committee members.
The Workshop was participated by Resource Persons and participants from the following 10 countries:
1. Islamic Republic of Iran;
2. Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
3. Kingdom of Morocco;
4. Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
5. Republic of Gambia;
6. Republic of Ivory Coast;
7. Republic of Sudan;
8. Republic of Uzbekistan;
9. State of Palestine; and
10. United Arab Emirates.
The participants from the following 26 institutions representing 10 countries participated in the Workshop:
1. Abdelmalek Essaadi University – Tetuan, Kingdom of Morocco;
2. Barid Bank, Kingdom of Morocco;
3. Chouab Doukali University El Jadida, Kingdom of Morocco;
4. EMI, Kingdom of Morocco;
5. FSRUSS, Kingdom of Morocco;
6. Information Center Gadarir University, Kingdom of Morocco;
7. Inter Islamic network on Information Technology (INIT), Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
8. Commission on Science and Technology for Sustainable Development in the South (COMSATS); Islamic Republic of Pakistan;
9. National Institute of Posts and Telecommunications (INPT), Kingdom of Morocco;
10. Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), Kingdom of Morocco;
11. L'Ecole nationale supérieure d'informatique et d'analyse des systèmes (ENSIAS), Kingdom of Morocco;
12. MESRS, Kingdom of Morocco;
13. Ministère de l’habitation, Kingdom of Morocco;
14. Ministry of Commerce, Kingdom of Morocco;
15. Ministry of Communication, Kingdom of Morocco;
16. Ministry of Industry, Kingdom of Morocco;
17. Ministry of Tourism, Kingdom of Morocco;
18. National Institute of Posts and Telecommunication, Kingdom of Morocco;
19. Université de Bouaké, Republic of Ivory Coast;
20. Université Mohammed V de Rabat, Kingdom of Morocco;
21. The Royal Court, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia;
22. Solution & Consulting, United Arab Emirates;
23. Institute of Applied Technology; United Arab Emirates;
24. Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Bank, United Arab Emirates;
25. University Alassane Ouattara of Bouaké, Republic of Ivory Coast; and
26. University of the Gambia, Republic of Gambia.
The following were the resource persons of the Workshop:
1. Dr. Haider Abbas
Research Scientist, Center of Excellence in Information Assurance,
King Saud University, and Cyber Security Consultant,
Center for Studies of Media Affairs, The Royal Court,
Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
2. Mr. Zafar Mir
Deputy Head of Information, Security Risk,
Hong Kong and Shanghai Banking Corporation (HSBC) Bank,
Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
3. Syed Mustafa Raza
Director, Solution & Consulting (Info Sec),
Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
4. Mr. Asad Raza
Professional Technical Faculty Member,
Institute of Applied Technology,
United Arab Emirates.