INTERVIEW: Stay online, yes, but stay safe | Roderick Lia, Katia Bonello

With October dedicated to raising awareness on cyber security, Cyber Security Malta - the national campaign led by MITA - is once again organising Cyber Root, the national platform that addresses the Cyber Security spectrum. BUSINESS TODAY spoke to Katia Bonello, Project Manager within the National Cyber Security Coordination Centre, and Roderick Lia, Senior Project Leader within the Information Security & Governance Department


October is dedicated to raising awareness on Cyber Security. Cyber Security Malta is the national campaign led by MITA, aimed at raising awareness and educating people on internet security and is once again this year organising its annual event branded as Cyber Root, the national platform that addresses the Cyber Security spectrum. Katia, can you tell me more about this year’s webinar?

Katia: This is the third year running that Cyber Security Malta, supported by MITA, is organising an event of this type. In 2019, we had a physical summit. Of course, with the onset of COVID-19, the event had to go online last year and we will be doing the same this year. The event will take place on Friday, 29 October, between 9am and 4pm. Our target audience is multi-dimensional: professionals with a technical background, executives, academics, policymakers and all those interested in learning more about the matter.

This is an issue that affects us all at the end of the day... Roderick, what can we expect from this webinar?

Roderick: The event promises to be a busy one, with 11 sessions and more than 30 local and international guest speakers. We will, for example, examine cyber security from a human aspect, we will go over events held over the past year and we will, of course, discuss methods to stay safe while online. We will also be discussing ways to identify security breaches and what to do when systems are compromised. And we will also look at the social media, being safe while using social media apps and platforms and what you can do to make your experience online safer. These are but a few of the topics we will be discussing on the day.

Katia: The event will include presentations, panel discussions with a moderator asking questions directly to the guests sitting on the panel, and a collaboration session where the coordinators will interact directly with the participants.

From what I’ve seen this far, of the guests invited to address the webinar, it’s a veritable who’s who of experts in the sector, isn’t it?

Katia: Yes, first and foremost, MITA’s Chief Technology Officer and Head of Information Security & Governance Department, Jonathan Cassar, will be addressing the webinar. Two international guests – among the most respected in the field – will also be participating: Dr Jessica Barker and Jamie Woodruff. As an interesting fact, when a student, Woodruff had managed to hack Facebook. So, we can expect an interesting session with him. The event will also be addressed by representatives from Microsoft, Acronis, CQURE, SentinelOne, ENISA, CERT-EU, Interpol, Cyber Crime Unit as well as the Maltese government, the retail industry, telecommunications and gaming sectors, and many more.

Roderick, the fact that the event is being held online is far from limiting what it can offer participants. In fact, being online provides for the introduction of new technology and features. This year, for example, Cyber Root will feature virtual booths and virtual lounges. How will these work?

Roderick: We are using a new technological platform that will allow us to closely mimic the offerings participants enjoyed in 2019, when the event was held physically and which will result in greater user experience and offers possible interactivity to all participants. With the introduction of virtual booths, for example, individual exhibitors will each promote their products and services. Those attending the event will be able to directly visit any exhibitor’s booth to pursue their services or to contact a representative. In the virtual lounge, visitors will be able to interact with other participants, albeit virtually. And of course, visitors will be able to follow all live events as they happen. There will also be a dedicated resource centre, where visitors will be able to access and download awareness and educational material..

This event is free for everyone, correct?

Katia: Yes, it is fully funded by Cyber Security Malta, with the assistance of MITA and a number of key sponsors, because we firmly believe in the importance of awareness and education when it comes to Cyber Security. We are also firm believers in the security community coming together to share experiences and knowledge so as to allow others to be safer online.

Your final message, Roderick ...

I urge those who have not yet registered for the event to do so at This site also includes details and the agenda of the event. As Katia said earlier, this event is for everyone, from IT professionals to those who merely deal with technology. The main take-away from the event will be how to protect ourselves while online, even during mundane daily activity online.

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