Tunisian Rima Al-Abbasi, winner of the “Women’s Leadership Award 2022”: Cyber security is one of the biggest challenges of the “City of the Future” | of science
Rima El-Abbassi obtained a state doctorate in information and communication technology from the University of Carthage and is the first woman to hold the position of director of the Higher Institute for Technological Studies in Transport in Tunisia.
Tunisian researcher Rima Al-Abbasi won the “Women’s Leadership in Cybersecurity” award from the Middle East Association of Women in Cybersecurity.
It was during the Regional Cyber Security Week organized by the International Telecommunication Union and the Arab Regional Center for Cyber Security in November 2022 in the capital of Oman, Muscat.
Rima El-Abbassi holds a government doctorate in information and communication technology from the University of Carthage and is the first woman to hold the position of director of the Higher Institute for Technological Studies in Transport in Tunisia.
She was previously selected in July 2020 by the Tunisian Academy of Sciences, Letters and Arts (House of Wisdom) as one of the top 50 women in cybersecurity in Africa, and in September 2020 as the best young researcher in informatics (computers) in Tunisia. .
Cybersecurity Leadership Award: The Result of Continuous Efforts
dr. Rima Al-Abbasi in an interview with “Al-Jazeera Net” explains that the arbitration committee in this competition relied on very strict criteria, and each participant was evaluated by 3 random judges according to the criteria published on the award’s website before appearing on the list of finalists.
In her response about the efforts and contributions she has made in the field of cyber security; Al-Abbasi explained that she is working to spread the culture of cyber security and information security at all levels and target different groups, noting It directs its work towards children, organizing courses and games to raise cyber security awareness, and also targets young people who are not security experts through training and awareness raising activities.
As for specialist students and researchers, she proposes new structures and algorithms in collaboration with her colleagues and students, and wants to regularly publish the results of her work at conferences and in peer-reviewed journals.
The Tunisian researcher mentioned her constant participation in many international events specialized in the field of cyber security, the most recent of which was her participation in Cameroon at the African Conference on Computer Science and Applied Mathematics Research, and at the International Network of Women Engineers and Scientists (INWES) conference that was organized in collaboration with the University of Warwick, UK, where she held a lecture on the topic “The Role of Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematical Research and Innovation in the Middle East and North Africa Region.” “
Limited presence of women in the field of cyber security
Regarding the presence of women in cybersecurity in the Middle East and North Africa, Al-Abbasi cited a survey of more than 19,000 cybersecurity professionals that highlighted a significant lack of women working in the field amid a growing skills gap, as women make up only 5% of the field workforce in the Middle East.
As for the reasons for women’s reluctance to specialize in this delicate field, she listed many reasons based on social upbringing, the nature of games offered to girls and boys, educational programs, along with the traditional roles of women in society and the negative role of media and advertising in creating stereotypes about women, which, in her opinion, narrows her horizons of knowledge and obscures many skills.
According to Al-Abbasa, the lack of women working in the field of cyber security is related to a lack of knowledge about the profession, a wrong perception by the media or a lack of encouragement. However, according to her, this reality is gradually changing as we are witnessing many measures that improve the status of women in the field .
“Cybercrime caused $1 trillion in global business losses in 2020 alone. 57% of organizations reported cybersecurity vacancies. The weaker a company’s line of defense, the more vulnerable it is to significant harm,” says Dr. Reema Al-Abbasi. The irony is that we have a shortfall of nearly 4 million cybersecurity professionals, so it seems natural to me that the logical solution to overcoming that would be to include women in this field.”
She further said that attracting women to the field will not only be about filling vacant positions, but will allow for the expansion and improvement of cybersecurity capabilities, given that women have a high level of emotional intelligence and have a unique perspective on related issues. She emphasized that strengthening the presence in that area has positive repercussions on national economies.
Cyber security and the city of the future
dr. Reema Al-Abbasi explains that in light of rapid technological development on the one hand, and in light of the increasing risk of crime and cyber attacks on the other, cyber security remains vital for any entity, company or even country.
No one has the luxury of asking whether or not they should integrate cybersecurity into their business. The question is whether or not you want to ensure the survival and prosperity of your business.
The city of the future, according to the Tunisian researcher, began to take shape within “learning cities”, where there is already talk of a city of data, a smart citizen or a city of a quarter of an hour.
It is certain that technological advances will continue to emerge, and hackers will continue to attempt phishing regarding new technological innovations in terms of mobility, security, sustainability and more. Al-Abbasi adds that, according to the United Nations, by 2050, almost two-thirds of the world’s population will live in cities.
Therefore, managing population flows, through traffic and transport, will be a big challenge in the future because everything will be more and more connected, so the amount of data exchanged will be increasing, and the number of connected devices will be huge, so we will be illiterate if we do not master the minimum the level of reactions Cybersecurity.