Cyber security under the military microscope next month

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Delivering the key note address at next month’s Military Information Communications Symposium South Africa (MICSSA) will be the duty of retired Air Commodore Bruce Wynn, a man whose 34 year military career included senior postings in intelligence and information security.

He was also utilised by the Royal Air Force (RAF) in the systems, operations and technical arenas. He was also responsible for the planning, deployment, support and exploitation of the Joint Commander’s CIS and ISTAR assets in support of UK operations in the Balkans, Afghanistan, in Operation Telic, operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom across the Gulf Region prior to retirement in 2005.

The CSIR will contribute and participate in the February 3 to 7 symposium with technical evaluation support and speakers, as well as exhibiting and demonstrating current day cyber defence mechanisms.

MICSSA is hosted by the Command Management Information Systems (CMIS) of the South African National Defence Force (SANDF) and the State Information Technology Agency (SITA). The theme of the Symposium is “Military information and communications technology within a rapidly evolving cyber world” and provides a platform for local and international defence, government and commercial communities to engage on cyber security.
“The SANDF fully realises the importance of understanding cyber threats and trends. The enemy is not only fought on land, sea and in the air. The cyber dimension has added a new battleground to conventional warfare. It is an area of rapidly expanding technology that connects people – but also exposes them to risk and crime. South Africa is only beginning to enter into this field. International collaboration – such as that provided by MICSSA – is important,” according to Dr Jackie Phahlamohlaka, Manager of Command, Control and Information Warfare at the CSIR.
“Cyber defence is an area that needs collaboration between parties in the defence, science, commercial and communication sectors, as well as government agencies across boundaries. At the highest level, it is about national security – which includes human security – which touches the lives of all of us as citizens. At the CSIR, we are also, for example, running information campaigns to better equip parents and teachers to deal with cyber threats.”

MICSSA is aimed at local and foreign militaries, the Security Cluster, the information and communications technology industry (inter-continental participation) and academia, including schools. In this respect, the SANDF will be bringing high school learners from five Gauteng schools, with their teachers, to attend the event.
“It is imperative that we empower our young people to keep themselves safe – increasingly these days against unseen enemies,” said Colonel Thys Nawrattle, Senior Staff Officer: Information Systems at CMIS. “Investing in skills development is an important part of securing a safe future. The SANDF sees this as a non-negotiable.”

Event organisers are also hoping for strong contingents from the rest of the continent. “There is a lot of scope for African countries to work together and share best practices. We have the opportunity to ensure that Africa is a cyber-safe continent,” Nawrattle added.

Conference attendance forms are available on the MICSSA website (www.micssa.co.za). The cost per delegate is R5 500 and R1 500 for military uniform members.