Navigating the Online Security Threat: A Look at Cybersecurity in Malta

by | Jan 2, 2024

 The National Cybersecurity Coordination Centre, under the auspices of MITA, organised the fourth CYBER Breakfast event of the year, following on the success of this series of events. Held on Tuesday, 24th October 2023, at the AX The Palace Hotel, it brought together a multitude of IT professionals, security experts and enthusiasts under one roof to face, learn and understand the ever advancing rate of technological capability.

 

The security of our data which is essential for our well-being and stability, relies heavily on systems that shield it from intrusions. However, the advancing capabilities of high-performance computers and the emergence of quantum computing can easily render these systems obsolete. This is why it’s important to tackle cybersecurity, and take it seriously.

What we need is a new paradigm, a new way to keep information secure against any potential attack, known or unknown, now and in the future. Only quantum-secured communication can give us that peace of mind. – Prof. André Xuereb: A New Kind of Cybersecurity

 

A New Kind of Cybersecurity

The event started off with Prof. André Xuereb who began with his presentation ‘A New Kind of Cybersecurity’ about quantum-secured networking in Malta.

 

Prof. André Xuereb during the fourth MITA CYBER Breakfast Event

In short, quantum security is the field of cybersecurity that focuses on protecting information and communication systems from attacks by powerful quantum computers. Quantum computers have the potential to break many of the encryption techniques currently used, posing a significant threat to data security.

An overwhelming subject, to be sure, but Prof. Xuereb engaged the audience well and managed to take on such a complex subject with a lighthearted delivery, and would easily have won the award of ‘most questions asked in a single keynote’ if it existed!

The presentation focused on how quantum computing poses a threat to security systems. For example, critical services that are very vulnerable to digital attacks include telecommunication networks, our energy grid and water supply, and health services. Quantum key distribution allows for a highly successful safe way of securing them.

What’s interesting is that Malta is currently being used as a test bed for quantum security having 20 nodes distributed around Malta and Gozo to experiment with this technology.

In summary, Prof. Xuereb highlights three important things:

  1. It is a human right for people to communicate securely;
  2. The quantum threat is real and should be taken seriously; and
  3. Any system is vulnerable and therefore should take measures against quantum threats.

Cybersecurity: No Longer Optional

The second part of the event was spearheaded by Mr Finian Massa, Strategic Marketing Manager, talking about cybersecurity and how seriously companies, big & small, are taking it here in Malta. The audience was definitely intrigued by the way Mr. Massa drew a parallel between the Notre-Dame fire and cybersecurity.

Mr Finian Massa during the fourth MITA CYBER Breakfast Event

Whilst larger companies are paying the proper attention to cybersecurity and the pitfalls of an unsecure system, with 76% of companies surveyed recruit cybersecurity professionals in some form, smaller companies are quite the opposite, with only 13% currently recruiting actively, and while many companies monitor and enforce cybersecurity policies, this is done manually in most cases.

Here are some important points made by Mr Massa about Malta’s state of cybersecurity.

  1. Cybersecurity is missing skilled people, which is an ongoing problem that needs time to be resolved.
  2. Budgets do not prioritise initial technology investment, and lump it in with internal IT.
  3. Cybersecurity is no longer an option, and the threats present today make enforcement mandatory.

Some statistics that attribute to these are that 75% of security professionals witnessed an increase in attacks over the past year, with 85% attributing it to bad actors using generative AI.

Mr Massa also highlighted the fact that company’s security systems have to be tough against invaders, but simple enough that cybersecurity professionals can work with it and implement it effectively.

With the ever-evolving security landscape, organisations are required to reassess their strategies. Program management, prioritisation, and operational burden reduction strategies can help achieve robust security without making any compromises. Staying informed and one step ahead can make a world of difference.

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