7 JUNE, 2022 • The Westin Doha Hotel, Doha, Qatar
Securing the digital nation – and the World Cup
The Smart Qatar Program relies upon a collaborative ICT ecosystem: how to keep it, and the rest of the nation, secure?
All over the world, governments are trying to understand how to harness the power of technology and innovation to drive sustainable economic diversification while improving quality of life for citizens and enhancing the delivery of public services.
In Qatar, one expression of this digital globalisation is the TASMU Smart Qatar Program. It is an innovative cloud-based smart city solutions platform with world-class artificial intelligence, big data and cybersecurity capabilities, developed in conjunction with an international consortium led by Ooredoo.
It is designed to be the backbone of Qatar’s digital infrastructure and performs three fundamental functions. It promotes communication between government entities, businesses and individuals across sectors to ensure collaborative efforts when developing smart solutions in Qatar.
It will provide the public and private sectors with advanced technologies that can be utilized to develop smart solutions and applications that meet national KPIs. It will store and analyze national data and develop key insights to support decision-making and resource management across all organizations in Qatar.
However, there is a price to pay for benefits of intelligent infrastructure. Increasing digitalisation and the expansion of the IoT have opened up the region’s companies and public sector entities to a much broader range of potential attackers.
All of this new technology, data and connectivity must be made cybersecure at a time when attackers are becoming sophisticated. In addition, Qatar’s hosting of the 2022 World Cup will also make the country a target for disruptive attacks, focused on destabilising the event itself as well as impacting individual targets.
The country is well aware of the threat. The country’s Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy has hosted summits of cybersecurity experts from around the globe to explore the range of cyber threats faced by large sporting events. The Ministry of Transport and Communications has also launched its National Information Security Standards Framework, aimed at standardising the cyber security capabilities of software, systems and services provided by international suppliers.
And more broadly Qatar is at the forefront of regulatory initiatives in the region, including in 2019 when Qatar’s Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) became the first Middle Eastern civil aviation regulator to publish cybersecurity guidelines designed to help mitigate electronic threats and attacks on the nation’s aircraft operators, airports and air traffic control systems.
But there is much more to be done.