On 30th May 2023, ICTOulu hosted SecureTech Oulu – an all-day convention that dealt with the topic of cyber security. Through a series of keynotes, workshops, seminars and product demonstrations, over 200 delegates enjoyed a day full of interesting insights, lively discussions, and plenty of networking opportunities.
In this full report from the event you will read some of the highlights including:
- The challenges that technologies such as AI present to cyber security;
- The type of business opportunities available in this domain;
- How to best implement solutions to protect your company;
- How geopolitical issues have impacted cybercrime;
- What the sector can do to be better-equipped at dealing with threats.
Trends and opportunities
Following a short introduction from host and badrap.io founder Jani Kenttälä as well as opening remarks from BusinessOulu’s Jussi Leponiemi, the first keynote came from Mikko Hyypönen, WithSecure’s Chief Research Officer. He is one of the world’s most famous information security experts, with more than three decades worth of experience and expertise in this field. Simply put, he is the perfect person to guide delegates through the current trends.
The audience was hooked from the very start thanks to a deepfake video that illustrated the ease with which people can access tools like AI. He noted that, compared to thirty years ago, conversation has shifted from what the upsides of the internet are towards its potentially catastrophic negatives, led by rapidly fast-growing tech. “Sounds a little like science fiction,” he said. “But that’s where we are.”
The increasing value of data was also discussed. He described it as the most valuable thing that we have – the new oil. However, very few leadership teams try to put a price on it. It’s only considered when they are suddenly hit with ransom demands from gangs of hackers that run slick and professional operations and are always looking for prestigious targets.
Whilst the keynote featured several serious subjects, Hyypönen managed to talk about them effortlessly with his trademark wit. He weaved in things like Xboxes, Douglas Adams’ Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, poetry and music to underpin his main talking points in an incredibly thoughtful and engaging way.
Next up was an information seminar from Business Finland. Arto Pussinen, Senior Director, Innovation Ecosystems was first to speak, as he gave a thorough overview of some of the services that are currently available to all organisations across the country (including in Oulu). Kirsi Kokko, Head of Digital Trust Finland, went more detail regarding the support that can be given to ICT companies. She also emphasised the value of collaboration with other hubs across the nation.
Technology transformation is shaping how societies function at a rapid pace. Not only that, cyber security threats have the potential to make a major impact on the global economy. As there is a pressing need for solutions to be embedded in all verticals, there are lots of opportunities out there, with Business Finland being able to facilitate some of these through its export funding services and its own market studies among other initiatives and tasks.
Throughout the event, we had several companies showing off some of their products and services in our demonstration room. This was a big draw in between presentations, as our delegates got to learn more about some of the solutions that are available to their businesses.
Workshops full of debates and discussions
The early afternoon session was devoted to two separate workshops that ran concurrently. Attendees had the option of hearing about themes relating to development or solutions, complete with enthusiastic and topical panel discussions.
Professor Juha Röning from the University of Oulu lead our developers workshop. The first part was all about data. Who owns it and how can it be used ethically in a way that engenders trust from the end user? How do we know what value it has? What role will AI play in the future? Whilst there were also references to legistation/regulation in these conversations, those topics were expanded upon in the second half. One of the main conclusions from this section was that understanding industry standards can go a long way in enabling the creation of feasible solutions. Care should also be taken when making products for specific sectors (e.g. health and banking).
Valtteri Kujala, CEO of Valfi Oy, led the other workshop, devoted to solutions. In the first part, there was lots of conversation about what companies should do when deploying new security systems/protocols. Whether businesses think they are a cybercrime target or not, the main advice that was expressed was that no one should be complacent. The second half was about the safeguarding of data and digital assets, which featured spirited discussions on how we attract new talent and CISOs to the ICT sector, as well how organisations comply with standards and regulations.
You can read our own summarised notes from both of these fascinating workshops right now by visiting our Download Hub!
Case studies and a perspective from NATO
After a short coffee break, where the discussions from the workshops continued apace, the first half of the afternoon’s session featured case studies and personal insights in the form of a trilogy of seminars.
First up was Teemu Ylhäisi, Chief information Security Officer at OP Financial Group. For all their extensive and thorough work in constructing and implementing a robust stategy in preventing potential criminal activity (which then leads to increased customer trust), Teemu stressed at various points in his presentation that the success of their strategy comes from strong leadership on this issue, with everyone being on the same page.
Following on from this, Markus Asikainen, Head of Cyber Security at Gofore strongly emphasised the value of everyone working together to battle new and established threats. He highlighted the importance of building an ecosystem where partnership and trust are at the very core. In short, people should be central to this goal, which requires as much transparency as possible and developing a constructive dialogue based on strong feedback.
Rounding off this part of the day was Tomi Väisänen, Senior Sales Manager at Synopsys. He ran through the results on their OSSRA (Open Source Security and Risk Analysis) report, which audited just over 1,700 codebases across 17 industries. As he highlighted, a large amount of those that were inspected contained components with no new updates in the past couple of years or were now completely out of date. Consequently, it’s important that developers are able to adequately maintain the solutions they are producing.
The day was concluded by our much-anticipated second keynote speaker, Urmas Ruuto. As Chief of Technology Branch at NATO’s Cooperative Cyber Defense Centre of Excellence (CCDCOE), he is very aware of the global threats to international security that are active right now.
His keynote emphasised some of the cutting-edge and pioneering activities that the CCDCOE was doing in cyber security. This included their Locked Shields defence exercise and their Crossed Swords red teaming workshop, which are held annually and involve stakeholders from many countries both within and outside of NATO.
He also spoke about what he sees as the localised implications of an increasingly challenging international climate. Whilst phishing remains a big leader in cyber security attacks, threats in general are becoming more politically motivated after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine last year, and that will only increase as we head into 2024. Not only that, server failures in sectors such as health and telecommunications cause big risks to national infrastructures.
It was a privilege to have a speaker of Urmas’ stature closing the day’s agenda. As Finland has recently become a new member of NATO, there was an eagerness from all delegates in the room to take in as much as information and insights as possible from someone who is working in one of its busiest departments.
We would like to give our thanks to:
- All the speakers and panellists that took part in the event;
- The staff at Radisson Blu Hotel Oulu;
- Our sponsors – ALIF Semiconductor, Bittium, Digious, Loihde Trust, Nokia, Planora Oy, Rugged Tooling & SensorFleet.
Last, but by no means least, thanks to all the delegates that attended! We hope that the insights and advice shared throughout the day were of value and can be considered when you plan and maintain your own cyber security strategies.