I hope you enjoyed a great summer vacation with your families and loved ones. Personally I had a wonderful and sunny holiday with my family in the south of Spain. Do you remember those days when the summers were quiet and peaceful? Where almost nothing notable was happening? I am afraid that those days are gone forever. I remember last summer, in 2012, when we had to take immediate action to support customers facing cyber-attacks within critical infrastructure in the Middle East. So far this year, there have been several attacks related to the crisis in Syria with the Syrian Electronic Army (SEA), and in Egypt. In addition to these cyber hacktivists, we are also seeing a steady increase in classical cyber threats involving attempted theft of finance and confidential data.
I just had a fantastic day in Dubai where McAfee launched its first Cyber Defense Center in the Middle East, a critical region in today’s World. First, important critical infrastructures such as oil and gas, finance and transport are based within the region. Second, it is highly innovative with local governments investing heavily in cutting edge projects around transportation and new technologies. The incredible evolution of architecture one can see in the region is truly a testament to the innovation and creativity of the people. When my driver picks me up at Dubai’s International Airport, I am always excited to see the new buildings, and to feel the incredible energy that surrounds the city.
The story of the Cyber Defense Center was born exactly 12 months ago. A wave of Advanced Persistent Threats (APTs) had successfully targeted the IT systems of regional organisations. Following these serious attacks, I participated in a meeting with 40 regional CIO’s in the region, and their request I heard loud and clear was: “We need more than top notch products and technologies, we need competent resources in region. There needs to be a highly experienced team of incident response and forensics experts that can help both respond and proactively work with us to prevent and stay 10 steps ahead of the bad guys”. There needed to be a more strategic approach to partnering with our customers in order to develop their strategic security plan that mapped to their business objectives, as well as being able to respond immediately to incidents. They were asking for our help – and I knew we had to do something
After a discussion with Michael DeCesare, our president, and his senior leadership team, we decided to create the Cyber Defense Center in the Middle East. It shows our commitment and support to the region. We partner with our customers by being their trusted advisor and helping them to protect their most valuable assets. It is all about mitigating risk and optimizing the security posture. As local governments have been investing heavily in new solutions to prevent and minimize the impact of attacks, McAfee’s Cyber Defense Center will be working closely with key stakeholders to better protect the region.
What a great launch this was! More than 70 customers were in attendance. We received enthusiastic feedback from the attendees with some fantastic comments across Twitter such as “#McAfee has taken definitive steps to be the 1 #Security company in the world”. I can’t think of any other single organization better suited.” After our customer event, we also held a media conference with about 20 journalists; we have already received some excellent coverage. I am extremely proud of our Professional Services organization. Our comprehensive range of services is closing the loop when it comes to our integrated Security Connected solution.
The launch of this Cyber Defense Center is a key milestone in strengthening ties between McAfee and the Middle East. Our commitment is strong and we are here to stay. I am thrilled to be here, and I am looking forward to spending quality time with our customers, partners and employees.