the next few years, a total of 560 Arab banks will upgrade their IT
systems with online banking and e-security high on the agenda,”
according to Dr. George Kardouche, chairman, Arab Bankers Association.
The ABA chairman was speaking in advance of ABTEC 2001, the First Arab
E-Banking and E-Security Summit which will be held at the Emirates
Towers Hotel in Dubai on April 8 and 9. The event is expected to draw
250 Islamic, Arab and international bankers. It will include an
e-banking conference and a 600 square meter exhibition.
The exhibition will be one of the most advanced seen in the region. At
its “Black Cave,” visitors will be able to learn about existing
and potential viruses and also meet the “white hackers,”
international hackers acknowledged for their expertise who have,
however, never contravened the law. ABTEC’s Black Cave is aimed at
putting the threat of malicious code into context by allowing the
“white hackers” to give detailed explanations on Internet viruses
and the damage they can cause. A study by the American Society for
Industrial Security found that there are an estimated 50,000 viruses
currently circulating in cyberspace. International studies suggest
that worldwide, hacking could cost $1.6 trillion this year alone.
One of the main purposes of the summit is to gain a regional consensus
in the approach to fighting cyber crime. Criminals targeting banking
systems are a serious threat to the security of the region.
Coordinated action and knowledgeable precautions could keep cyber
crime to a minimum. ABTEC 2001 aims to help in this effort by allowing
the participants to share vital preventative knowledge. The conference
will also assist banks with the task of identifying white-collar fraud
and create a platform for a discussion of the difficulties banks and
businesses face in installing and maintaining complicated security
According to Douglas Mellor of International Transmedia Limited, which
is facilitating ABTEC on ABA’s behalf, the exhibition is an
essential education forum, not just for bankers, but for their
“IT security not only impacts the financial sector. It also impacts
everyday business strategy, e-commerce and competitiveness,” said
Mellor. “It is no longer an issue only for specialists. For example,
in the UK, directors of publicly-quoted companies currently have a
legal responsibility to act on computer security. We envisage similar
rulings being enacted throughout the Middle East and ABTEC will lead
the debate. With the rapid development of e-business, corporate
exposure to criminal attack or unintentional information leak is
greater than ever.”
ABTEC 2001, which is being organized by the ABA in partnership with www.sheikhmohammed.co.ae,
the unique Internet site which promotes Dubai, Information Technology
in the UAE and the role of Sheikh Mohammed ibn Rashid Al-Maktoum, UAE
defense minister and crown prince of Dubai, in this arena, has won the
backing of the Dubai Police. Dubai’s Police Chief, Maj. Gen. Dhahi
Khalfan Tamim, said cyber crime is not confined to external attacks.
“Often there’s a great threat from within a company as disgruntled
employees seek to damage business,” he warned.
Tamim added that international surveys revealed that up to 80 percent
of employees have access to sensitive corporate information. So it is
vital for companies to also seek protection against internal and
external attacks, making IT security a top business priority.
According to the ABA, Middle East organizations and businesses could
end up spending $100 million within the next two or three years to
beef up their IT security systems.
ABTEC 2001 will bring together a host of expert speakers from the
Middle East, Europe and the United States. The summit will also
feature a series of technology seminars devoted to e-banking,
e-trading and mobile banking. Visit ABTEC 2001 online at: www.abtec-summit.com.