Session highlights: Security in an insecure world

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When the hackers come

Browse any news site’s business section and you’ll find no shortage of companies whose information has been hacked, leaked or otherwise compromised in the past few years. If you’re feeling relieved it’s them rather than you, you might be naïve.

“The joke in the industry is that there are two types of companies,” said George Atalla, EY Global Leader – Government & Public Sector: “Those that have been attacked, and those that have been attacked but don’t yet know it.”

Recent research by EY found that the two most common causes of cybersecurity breaches are careless or unaware employees and outdated information security controls or architecture. For most businesses, a breach due to these or other factors isn’t a matter of if, but when.

Companies can at least limit their exposure by raising the issue to the highest levels of their organization. Many have gone as far as appointing a chief information security officer to the board, Atalla noted.

If protecting your company’s data — and that of its clients and employees — from cyber attackers isn’t incentive enough, it could have implications for your country, too.

“Every conflict since 2011 has had a cyber component,” said Margaret Gilmore, a national security expert and former BBC correspondent. Such attacks frequently target corporate as well as government networks.Historically, governments have focused on preventing the extreme threat posed by “ABC” weapons: atomic, biological and chemical. Now, said William Saito, a former EY Entrepreneur Of The Year™ country winner described by the moderator as “Japan’s cyber tsar,” they can add a fourth: D for digital.

“Every conflict since 2011 has had a cyber component.”

- Margaret Gilmore


EY - Sohrab Ahmari

Sohrab Ahmari

Editorial Page Writer
The Wall Street Journal

Sohrab Ahmari is an editorial page writer for The Wall Street Journal Europe Edition, based in London. He joined the Journal in New York as an assistant books editor after serving as a Robert L. Bartley fellow in 2012.

Prior to joining the Journal, he earned a law degree from Northeastern University and was a nonresident fellow at the Henry Jackson Society.

An alumnus of Teach for America, Sohrab is co-editor of Arab Spring Dreams, an anthology of essays by young dissidents in the Middle East.



EY - George Atalla

George Atalla

Global Leader – Government & Public Sector

George Atalla is EY’s Global Leader for the Government & Public Sector group, which includes more than 19,000 professionals across mature and emerging markets providing advisory, audit, transactional and taxation services to clients.

Working closely with EY’s government clients, George identifies key public sector issues and leads the development of new client services and recommendations. George also provides sector insights that position EY as a thought leader in government policy and modernization.

George has worked in more than 30 developed and developing markets, focusing on public-private partnerships and outsourcing, restructuring and organizational transformation, policy reform and investment prioritization.


EY - Margaret Gilmore

Margaret Gilmore

Former BBC senior correspondent

Margaret Gilmore is a writer, broadcaster and analyst specialising in terrorism and national security, and in media issues. After more than twenty years as a Senior BBC TV Correspondent and journalist she is now Senior Associate Fellow with the leading security and defence think tank RUSI (Royal United Services Institute).

An authoritative figure on our screens for many years, respected for her writing and broadcasting and her specialist knowledge and analytical skills, she continues to write, lecture and advise private and public sector organisations. During a distinguished career in television, radio and newspapers she spent seven years as a senior Home Affairs Correspondent for BBC News, covering the July 7 2005 bombings and 9/11. Before that she was Environment and Agriculture Correspondent.



EY - William H. Saito

William H. Saito

Entrepreneur and Innovator

One of Nikkei’s “100 Most Influential People for Japan,” William H. Saito began software programming in elementary school. Later, he incorporated his own business; was named Entrepreneur Of The Year in 1998; and was widely recognized as an authority on encryption, biometric authentication and cybersecurity. In 2004, he sold his company to Microsoft, moved to Tokyo and founded InTecur, a consultancy that identifies innovative technologies and helps entrepreneurs maximize their potential.

In 2011, William was named CTO of the Fukushima Nuclear Accident Independent Investigation Commission. In 2012, he was appointed to a council on national strategy which reported directly to the Prime Minister. He is active in the World Economic Forum and consults for several national governments. In Japan, he has advised METI, MIC, MEXT and MLIT and is currently the Special Advisor to the Cabinet Office for the Government of Japan.

A popular university lecturer and respected TV commentator, William is a widely read newspaper columnist and a prolific author. His best-selling The Team appeared in 2012 and his autobiography, An Unprogrammed Life: Adventures of an Incurable Entrepreneur, in 2011.