Zurich, 10.07.2024 – As the founder of the Swiss Cyber Institute and organizer of the Global Cyber Conference, Samir Aliyev has made a name for himself worldwide. Its events are a rendezvous of leading organizations, cybersecurity specialists and personalities.

Data security and compliance is currently a top priority for many companies and organizations. Someone who devotes himself to these topics with heart and soul is Samir Aliyev. He is a visionary, doer and networker. And he has created something in Switzerland that enjoys international recognition.

Computerworld (CW): Samir Aliyev, you are the founder and CEO of the Swiss Cyber Institute (SCI). Please tell us briefly how it came about and what goals the SCI pursues.

Samir Aliyev: After completing my second Master’s degree in International Business Law at the University of Zurich, I started working as a Director of Studies at the University of St. Gallen and founded the Swiss Cyber Institute at the end of 2019. The mission of the Swiss Cyber Institute is to improve social security and close the gap between the demand for security experts and the existing deficit. The Institute regularly hosts high-profile events, webinars and seminars in Zurich and has received official recognition from the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation (SERI) to offer preparatory courses for federal examinations in cybersecurity. Our main motivation was to contribute to a safer world through effective capacity building of cyber specialists in Switzerland and internationally.

CW: The topic of cyber security is very complex and dynamic. Where do you see the most important priorities at the moment?

Aliyev: Cybersecurity encompasses much more than just technical tools; it is also about people, processes, standards, legal frameworks and ethical considerations. The focus should be on building human potential so that individuals understand the technology, the threat landscape in cyberspace and the necessary standards, processes and legal requirements. This comprehensive understanding is critical to securing systems, mission-critical assets, networks, data, and ultimately our lives. I emphasize that human capital is the most important and often missing element in cybersecurity. Therefore, our main goal is to expand capacity by training more people, bringing new talent into the field, and helping them develop and advance their careers, thereby positively impacting their lives.

CW: Where do you see an urgent need for action? And why?

Aliyev: The most urgent need for action in cybersecurity is to improve cooperation in general. Since cyberspace knows no physical borders, vulnerabilities can be exploited internationally. It is therefore essential to promote joint ventures and partnerships across different sectors. Effective cooperation should take place internationally, regionally and locally, involving both the private and public sectors, as well as academia, business and industry. The goal is to bring together all stakeholders and thought leaders to address the current cybersecurity challenges and develop sensible solutions. This collaborative approach is critical to a comprehensive and effective response to cyber threats.

CW: You are or let’s say the SCI is very well connected internationally. Are there differences in the approach to security when you compare the different countries and organizations?

Aliyev: The global cybersecurity environment is diverse due to different levels of development and access to technology and resources. Developed regions such as North America and Asia-Pacific, especially China, have robust cybersecurity measures in place, while the Middle East is making rapid progress in this area due to significant investments in its digital ecosystem. However, Europe is showing less innovation in cybersecurity, although new EU regulations raise hopes for more investment and start-ups. Switzerland stands out as a highly innovative country, with strong universities, research institutes and start-ups contributing to its reputation as a potential global cybersecurity hub. Our approach emphasizes inclusivity and support for resource-poor regions, sometimes offering training for free or at a low cost to ensure that no one is left behind in the cybersecurity space.

CW: In your experience, which methodology or tactics have proven to be the most useful so far? What advice would you give to companies and organizations?

Aliyev: The most effective methodology in my experience is collaboration within organizations. Cybersecurity affects all parts of an organization and should be viewed as a factory where everyone contributes to the final product. It is crucial that every employee, regardless of their role, has a deep understanding of cybersecurity. This includes awareness of a security culture, data protection, and the importance of protecting intellectual property and confidential company data. Promoting a top-down approach to cultivating a culture of security and privacy is critical. Comprehensive training and knowledge transfer to employees ensures that they understand and can effectively contribute to the organization’s cybersecurity efforts.

CW: AI and IoT promise great benefits on the one hand, but they are also potential security risks. How do you assess the topic? What should you pay attention to?

Aliyev: AI and IoT are emerging technologies that, like the internet and software in their early days, bring both significant potential benefits and security risks. While cybercriminals could exploit these technologies, the opportunities they offer for improving system processes, technologies, and overall security approaches are immense. It is crucial to adapt to and evolve with these technologies by recognizing AI as the next generation technology that is here to stay and will increasingly impact our lives. The approach should be to update and improve our systems to take advantage of the positive aspects of AI and IoT while mitigating the risks associated with them.

CW: With the Global Cyber Conference and the Swiss CISO Awards, you managed to organize two successful events from zero to one hundred. How easy or difficult is it to set up such a network in Switzerland? Or to put it another way: How did you do it?

Aliyev: Inspired by my previous work with leading global event organizers and executives, I decided to leverage Switzerland’s central role in international relations to host a global cyber conference during the pandemic. The first Global Cyber Conference was launched in September 2022 and gained significant international visibility and support. It grew rapidly, with delegations from numerous countries participating in the following years. The success of these events built trust and established the conference as a critical platform for discussing cybersecurity. In addition to the conference, the Swiss CISO Awards, which I launched in 2023 and will take place for the second time in November, recognize and recognize leading figures in the field of Swiss cybersecurity. These events provide a unique forum for global leaders to share challenges, solutions, and best practices that are not typically available through social media or online platforms. This approach has proven to be a great success by enriching both Swiss and international participants through learning, knowledge sharing, networking and engagement.

CW: I assume that preparations for the next Global Cyber Conference and Swiss CISO Awards in November are already underway. What can we look forward to this year?

Aliyev: Preparations for this year’s Global Cyber Conference are in full swing. This year’s focus is on Cloud & AI Security, Business Impact and Enterprise Strategy. Participants can expect some exciting innovations. We are pleased to welcome over 70 world-renowned experts. These provide valuable insights into current and future cybersecurity challenges and developments. With more than 60 sessions, participants can choose from a wide range of topics tailored to their individual interests and needs. Another highlight is the international reach of the conference. With over 350 premium guests from more than 30 countries, the event offers an excellent opportunity for global networking and knowledge sharing. Experts from all over the world can network here and learn from each other. Particularly exciting this year is the introduction of the Hacker’s Escape Room. The Dolder Grand will be transformed into an interactive world of experience that immerses participants in exciting cybersecurity scenarios. This attraction takes interaction and networking to a whole new level, providing participants with a hands-on experience.

The original interview source: Cybersecurity is a top priority – computerworld.ch

About the Swiss Cyber Institute:
The Swiss Cyber Institute is a leading cybersecurity education provider and digital community in Switzerland. With the aim of promoting cyber resilience, the Institute offers comprehensive training programmes and courses, conferences and networking opportunities to empower individuals and organisations in the face of ever-evolving cyber threats. The Swiss Cyber Institute is a course provider registered by the State Secretariat for Education, Research and Innovation SERI for the federal examinations in Switzerland. It is also an ISACA Accredited Training Organisation (ATO) and ISC2 Official Preffered Training Partner. In addition, the Institute is a Sector Member of ITU, International Telecommunication Union. Further information can be found at: https://swisscyberinstitute.com and on our social media channels.

Contact Swiss Cyber Institute:
Anastasiia Vollmar
Head of Marketing
Swiss Cyber Institute
+41 41 554 70 41 | anastasiia@swisscyberinstitute.com
Talacker 50, 8001 Zurich, Switzerland