The topic of the first Digitalization Conference hosted by American Chamber of Commerce in North Macedonia (AmCham) was “Building Cyber Resilient Organizations”. It was attended by cyber security experts and active stakeholders in the field of digital transformation from public and private sector with the aim of sharing knowledge and best practices in the development of cyber-resilient organizations.
The conference was opened by the president of the Board of Directors of AmCham North Macedonia, Dragan Davitkov, who emphasized that building resilient digital systems is not a choice, but a necessity in order to ensure the functionality of modern society – at the local, regional and global level. At the same time, every digital solution must be accompanied by an appropriate and proactive security strategy.
The program started with a keynote address by Branko Primetica, a partner at Cedars International, who spoke about the need for proactivity in the advancement of cyber security. He explained the proactive approach as promptly identifying and correcting weaknesses in digital systems before they are exploited by cyber attackers. He cited a study from “Economist” that found organizations that take a proactive approach in cyber security see as much as 53% fewer cyberattacks. After all, “it always costs more to recover from cyber-attacks than to invest in a comprehensive, proactive program for cyber-security” – Primetica concluded.
The Conference continued with the first ministerial panel on topic “Strategy for digitalization and cyber security of North Macedonia”, in which the following participated: Slavica Grkovska, Deputy Prime Minister in charge of good governance policies; Azir Aliu, Minister of Information Society and Administration; and Jeton Akiku, the director of the Electronic Communications Agency.
The panel presented the commitments and planned reforms of the country to accelerate the digital transformation in the public sector, while referring to the measures taken in the maintenance and protection of the implemented digital systems.
The Keynote speaker, Emily Harding from Washington, D.C., USA, otherwise Senior Fellow and Deputy Director of the International Security Program at CSIS spoke on the topic “Building cyber resilience in the digital world”, noting that organizations should think in the direction of transition from crisis management to building flexible system resilience in cyber security. In doing so, Harding defined resilience as the ability of organizations to anticipate, withstand, recover from, and adapt to cyber-attacks. She then turned her attention to each of these four components, concluding that continued resilience brings great benefits and comes at a lower cost than reactionary to individual attacks.
Harding`s speech served as baseline for the following panel “Critical Components of a Cyber Program” featured the following speakers: Metodija Mircev, CEO of A1 Macedonia, Filip Simeonov, CEO of CPP InfoSoft Group, Petar Todorov Ivanov, Sales Program Manager at Google Cloud, as well as Goce Dojcinovski, System Architect from CISCO. Their discussion was focused on the significance of risk assessment and management, and exploring how it is ensured to remain relevant. After, they gave emphasis to the implementation of robust network security measures aimed at safeguarding the organizations network infrastructure and measures related to access control and identity management.
In order to ensure a high-quality workforce that will meet future demands in the cyber security world with limited resources, next panel was focused on sharing best practices and recommendations for cybersecurity talent development, named “Education and Talent-to-value-protection approach”, moderated by Andrej Petreski from AmCham Digital Transformation Committee together with: Prof. Boro Jakimovski, Dean at Faculty of Computer Science and Engineering, Prof. Mitko Bogdanoski, Dean at Military Academy – Skopje, Liljana Pecova, Manager at CIDR/North Macedonia of Cyber Pathways for Woman, as well as Nevena Stojakovic from Florida International University.
To conclude the first day of the Conference, Adel Abusara as Cybersecurity Lead from PwC SEE and Teodora Kotevska as Reinsurance Expert from Euroins Insurance, together with Brandan McDonagh as Senior Advisor from European Investment Advisory Hub at EIB and Cynthia Wright as Cyber Strategy & Polcy Principal at MITRE Corporation discussed on the topic “Cybersecurity Budgeting: Setting cybersecurity budgets”. The panelist shared their expertise in budget decomposition and the relation to Cloud Security, together with Cyber Insurance and Funding possibilities, based on the current client needs. This panel discussion was moderated by Dimitar Janevski, Vice-Chair of the AmCham Digital Transformation Committee.
The AmCham Digital Transformation Committee Chair, Meri Kucera Ilievska, gave the opening address on the second day of the conference. She offered information about cyberattacks and aimed to improve the facts due to artificial intelligence.
As a keynote speaker, Senad Aruc, Founder & CEO of Imperium.Io made excellent points on “Cyber Security Landscape and Policies – regional overview” in order to understand threats and to share best practices, including global trends and up-to-date technologies.
Right after, Dragan Novakovic, as Security technical solutions architect in Balkan region presented unique “CISCO Zero Trust” model for more efficient security to address identity, apps & network threats using approach to secure access across your applications, from any user, device and location.
As a financial instrument and available tool for support to private sector companies in North Macedonia, Sonja Ingilizova and Marina Ruben from the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development provided information for “Supporting the cyber-resilience of the private sector” and advisory support to assist companies in achieving their growth and development.
Jakub Kiedrowski as Digital Transformation specialist gave perspective on “Different angles of secure data” by EMEA Oracle Corporation, making a clear distinction between Security versus Compliance with clear solution for business continuity, data resilience, protection on external threats and compliance and monitoring.
Igor Davchevski, COO at NLB Bank, Azem Jonuzi, CTO at Aitonix, Senad Aruc, CEO & Founder at Imperium.Io, Branko Primetica, Managing Partners at Cedars International and Aleksandar Pavlovic, Regional Sales Manager at CISCO, participated in the conference`s last panel “What`s next for Cyber Security”, offering holistic perspective on the future state of cybersecurity, encompassing trends, challenges, innovations and regulatory aspects, captivating the interest of the conference guests.