Customising courseware to address regional cybersecurity dynamics
Ned Baltagi, Managing Director, Middle East, Turkey and Africa, SANS Institute

Customising courseware to address regional cybersecurity dynamics

Globally every region has a different cyber security market, based on their macroeconomic, technological and industrial dynamics, requiring cyber security education partners like SANS Institute to tailor their courseware based on these unique needs covering the Gulf, Europe and North America.

In the digital age, cybersecurity is a global concern that requires localised strategies to effectively combat cyber threats. The SANS Institute stands at the forefront of this battle, offering specialised training and resources tailored to the unique cybersecurity needs of various regions, including the Gulf Region, Europe, and North America.

In the Gulf Region, national strategies like Saudi Vision 2030 emphasize cybersecurity as a foundational pillar of digital transformation. SANS supports these initiatives by providing tailored training programmes, enhancing the region’s cyber defence capabilities against the evolving threat landscape.

SANS’ global impact is evident through its diverse range of courses, the GIAC certifications, and Cyber Range exercises and resources, which address the specific cybersecurity challenges faced by different regions. SANS recognises the importance of tailored cybersecurity education in addressing the unique challenges faced by each region.

By continuously adapting courses and certifications, SANS ensures that cybersecurity professionals are well-equipped with the latest skills and knowledge to protect against evolving threats.

The Gulf

The Gulf Region is characterised by its rapid technological adoption, making it a prime target for cyber threats, especially in the industrial control systems, ICS sector. SANS’ insights into industrial control system threats in the Gulf underscore the critical need for specialised cybersecurity measures to protect essential infrastructure. It is for that reason that SANS have chosen to increase the number of ICS classes running in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates this year.

In the Gulf Region, the focus on ICS and compliance training supports the safeguarding of critical infrastructure, a key component of the region’s digital transformation goals. The emphasis of SANS training for the region will lie on SANS Cyber Safari and SANS Gulf Region, the two largest training events in the year for both Saudi Arabia and UAE.

Both training events bring a plethora of SANS courses to the region, enabling cybersecurity professionals from all fields to participate in these training events and improve their skills.

Secure Compliance Solutions in the Gulf Region focuses on aligning cybersecurity practices with regulatory requirements. SANS’ Secure Compliance initiative offers a pathway for organisations to navigate the complexities of compliance, ensuring that they not only meet but exceed the regulatory standards set by regional authorities.

Europe

Europe’s advanced digital infrastructure is both a strength and a vulnerability. The implementation of the NIS2 Directive reflects Europe’s proactive approach to enhancing cybersecurity across critical sectors.

This directive mandates a comprehensive security framework, pushing organisations towards higher resilience against cyber threats and puts more responsibility on company leaders to ensure they are doing what needs to be done to protect their organisations, their clients and ultimately the infrastructure they are a part of.

AI Security Essentials for Business Leaders in Europe addresses the growing concern around AI and its implications on cybersecurity. This course empowers business leaders with the knowledge to secure AI technologies within their organisations, fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness that is crucial for compliance with regulations like NIS2.

Organisations and government instances in Europe benefit from SANS’ specialised courses that align with the European Cybersecurity skills framework and the NIS2 Directive, enhancing the cybersecurity posture of organisations across the EU.

There have been a variety of strategic partnerships that SANS has set up in both the United Kingdom as well as across Europe, which all aim to encourage more people to consider a career in cyber security and equally to improve the overall cyber capabilities across the EU.

Throughout the year, SANS will also run a wide range of training events in Europe and the UK, with London and Amsterdam hosting a SANS training event nearly every month.

North America

On the other side of the globe, North America faces expansive cybersecurity challenges due to its highly digitalised economy. The US National Cyber Strategy, alongside sector-specific mandates, outlines a robust approach to securing the vast digital landscape against sophisticated cyber adversaries. North America has also seen an increased focus and effort on expanding its’ regulations around cybersecurity.

The recent US SEC ruling on Incident Reporting and Management oversight, mandates prompt reporting of cyber incidents, disclosures on cybersecurity processes, and detailed board management oversight. Overall, this implies that organisations – and especially larger enterprise organisations – now have to take cybersecurity more seriously up to the highest level of management.

North America’s diverse cybersecurity landscape is addressed through SANS’ comprehensive training programmes, which cover everything from cloud security to the management of AI-related risks. These programmes are designed to prepare professionals to confront and mitigate the cyber threats that are particularly prevalent in a highly advanced digital economy.

Next to a wide array of Summits that SANS organises across multiple fields, ranging from New2Cyber, Digital Forensics and ICS, to Cloud, SANS also hosts a series of nation-wide training events. SANSFIRE, SANS Network Security and the SANS Cyber Defence Initiative, hosted in Washington DC and Las Vegas, consist of anywhere between 30 to 45 classes.

And the next CloudSecNext summit will see all three major cloud platform providers take the stage, including Microsoft, Google and Amazon, in August. These are great gatherings for cyber security professionals from all over the globe.

Partnerships and alliances

In the Gulf, one of these programmes is the Cyber Reskilling Academy which SANS and Tamkeen ran in Bahrain, targeting Bahraini nationals who were seeking to move into a cybersecurity career and train them to become true professionals. Another programme is the partnership with Kuwait Institute of Banking Studies, the training arm overseen by the Central Bank of Kuwait, which is an immersive cyber security training programme.

Europe has also made significant strides in standardising cybersecurity practices through the European Cybersecurity Skills Framework, and the newly instated NIS2 Directive. SANS’ training programmes are designed to aid organisations in achieving compliance, offering courses that cover essential topics like risk management and incident response.

With this, SANS aligns with the increased efforts across the whole of Europe in enhancing and strengthening the security posture and capabilities of all member states and the organisations that conduct business in the EU.

The programmes SANS has run with a variety of government partners and organisations across the UK and Europe have seen thousands of students graduate and successfully embark on a career in the cyber security industry.

In North America, federal and state cybersecurity initiatives are bolstered by SANS’ advanced training and certifications. These programmes cater to the region’s complex cybersecurity needs, supporting the strategic goals outlined in the National Cyber Strategy by preparing a skilled cybersecurity workforce.

Some of SANS’ training programmes aim to open up the industry to under-represented groups or those who have just come out of a military career. Women in Cyber and VetSuccess Academies are examples of initiatives that aim to bring more talented people from all backgrounds into the world of cybersecurity.

Moving forward

Cybersecurity demands a proactive and informed approach. Through its region-specific training programmes and global initiatives, the SANS Institute plays a critical role in bridging the gap between cybersecurity challenges and solutions. By fostering a global community of well-prepared cybersecurity professionals, SANS contributes significantly to the resilience of digital infrastructures across the Gulf Region, Europe, and North America.

As digital threats continue to evolve, the collaboration between SANS, governmental bodies, and organisations will remain vital in shaping a secure digital future. The mission of SANS is not just to educate professionals. SANS aims to empower them to protect the digital world and to get better at their craft.

The commitment to continuous education and adaptation is the key to staying one step ahead in the cybersecurity arena, ensuring that digital societies remain resilient in the face of ever-evolving digital challenges.


Key takeaways

  • The Gulf Region is characterised by its rapid technological adoption, making it a prime target for cyber threats, especially in industrial control systems.
  • It is for that reason that SANS has chosen to increase the number of industrial control systems classes running in Saudi Arabia and the Emirates this year.
  • The implementation of the NIS2 Directive reflects Europe’s proactive approach to enhancing cybersecurity across critical sectors.
  • Organisations in Europe benefit from SANS’ specialised courses that align with the European Cybersecurity skills framework and the NIS2 Directive.
  • Throughout the year, SANS will also run a wide range of training events in Europe and the UK, with London and Amsterdam hosting a SANS training event.
  • On the other side of the globe, North America faces expansive cybersecurity challenges due to its highly digitalised economy.
  • US SEC ruling on Incident Reporting, mandates prompt reporting of cyber incidents, disclosures and detailed board management oversight.
  • SANS’ training programmes aim to open up the industry to under-represented groups or those who have just come out of a military career.
  • Women in Cyber and VetSuccess Academies are examples of initiatives that aim to bring talented people from all backgrounds into cybersecurity.

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