Published: 19:41, September 11, 2023 | Updated: 20:17, September 11, 2023
Cybersecurity summit: HK sees growing threats
By Xi Tianqi in Hong Kong

Lillian Cheong Man-lei (front row, center), acting secretary for innovation, technology, and industry, poses for a group photo with other participants of the Cyber Security Summit Hong Kong 2023 on Sept 11, 2023. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Cybersecurity experts on Monday flagged the growing threat of cyber-attacks faced by both government institutions and businesses and called for concerted efforts to safeguard digital security by leveraging artificial intelligence.

The two-day Cyber Security Summit Hong Kong 2023, which opened on Monday, is the city’s flagship cybersecurity event, and was attended by more than 300 participants on its first day, comprising leading experts from both home and outside the city. This week also marks China Cybersecurity Week 2023, held nationwide from Sept 11-17, 2023.

Mohamed Din Butt, executive director of the Hong Kong Productivity Council, noted that in the first half of 2023 alone, Hong Kong experienced over 3,800 cyber-attacks, marking a 20 percent increase compared with the same period last year

Mohamed Din Butt, executive director of the Hong Kong Productivity Council, noted that in the first half of 2023 alone, Hong Kong experienced over 3,800 cyber-attacks, marking a 20 percent increase compared with the same period last year. The number of phishing websites found in the first half of 2023 reached 10,000, registering a 22 percent increase over the same period last year, and presenting a significant challenge for local enterprises.

Butt said tackling this requires the use of new technologies and better cyber practices through collaborative efforts among enterprises, cybersecurity professionals, government bodies, and industry leaders in Hong Kong.

Noting the use of AI by hackers to create phishing messages or to steal people’s identities, Butt said AI is still an effective tool to guard against cyber-attacks.

Ramses Gallego, the international chief technology officer at Open Text Cybersecurity — a leading cybersecurity solution provider globally — agreed.

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He said that while the emergence of AI presents potential risks to cybersecurity, leveraging advanced AI technologies can assist IT professionals in enhancing their defense capabilities.

He said AI can help them identify and detect threat patterns that may be overlooked by human analysts, automate routine IT tasks such as patching vulnerabilities, providing software updates, and system monitoring, thus freeing up valuable human resources for more complex tasks.

Ramses added that AI can provide near real-time threat detection and response capabilities, further strengthening overall cybersecurity measures.

Also speaking at the summit, Lillian Cheong Man-lei, acting secretary for innovation, technology, and industry at the Innovation, Technology and Industry Bureau, said the government will review its current guidelines and see whether there is a need to revise the outdated policies and guidelines relating to cyber supervision, in view of the evolution of new technology, such as quantum resistance and encryption.

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In Hong Kong, the current guidelines for the ethical development and use of AI were implemented in 2021 by the Office of the Privacy Commissioner for Personal Data in Hong Kong. These guidelines aim to assist organizations in understanding and complying with requirements related to personal data and privacy protection.

Fang Binxing, an academician of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, detailed the steps that companies should take when suffering from a data breach.

Attention needs to be given to data migration, data recovery, and data insurance, once it is compromised, Fang said.

He added that the role of data insurance extends beyond mere compensation. More importantly, insurance companies will enhance the data security capabilities of institutions and enterprises before underwriting policies. This is the final link in the data security resilience chain, he said.

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Apart from the Cyber Security Summit, HKPC Cyber Security has recently introduced the "Smart & Secure City Hall" initiative. The primary objective of this initiative is to increase awareness of cybersecurity among both enterprises and the general public.

It serves as a platform to exhibit the 15 most cutting-edge technological and innovative solutions in cybersecurity across various sectors, including government, industry, academia, and research.

To ensure industry practitioners stay up to date with the latest security technologies and solutions, a series of workshops will be conducted from late September 2023 to April 2024.