Microsoft warns of cyber security risks, supports innovation in Turkey

Microsoft warns of cyber security risks, supports innovation in Turkey

Güneş Kömürcüler - ISTANBUL
Microsoft warns of cyber security risks, supports innovation in Turkey A top Microsoft representative has expressed optimism about Turkey’s economy, while underlining the importance of improving the institutional capability of institutions that use technology in the country amid a rapid rise in cybersecurity risks.

“I am a bit worried about the cybersecurity standards in Turkey. The number of infected computers is very high – more than two times higher than the world average. There is a lot of work to be done to increase cybersecurity,” Microsoft Corporate VP and Microsoft Middle East & Africa (MEA) President Ali Faramawy told the Hürriyet Daily News. 

Faramawy was one of 20 top global company executives who attended the government’s ninth Investment Advisory Council Meeting in Istanbul in late October. 

According to the latest Microsoft Security Intelligence Report (SIR), Turkey’s cyber security record deteriorated dramatically in the last quarter of 2015.

The rate of computers cleaned per thousand, abbreviated as CCM, rose to 42.6 percent in Turkey in the last quarter of 2015 from 21 percent in the previous quarter. The figure is almost 2.5 percent higher than the world average, giving Turkey a worse record than many countries, including Nigeria, according to the report.

The encounter rate, the percentage of computers running Microsoft real-time security software that detect malware or potentially unwanted software, or report specific threats, also hit 40.3 percent, twice the world average. 

Turkey, the target of several attacks from hacktivist groups in 2015, had by far the largest number of bots in the Europe, Middle East and Africa region, a separate report showed. 

Turkey’s number of unique infections was almost double that of the nearest country, according to a Norton by Symantec report in September. 

“Fourth in the global rankings, Turkey made up 18.5 percent of EMEA’s bot population and 4.5 percent of the world’s. Most of these infected computers reside in Istanbul (29 percent of Turkey’s total bot population) and Ankara (28 percent). Both of these cities are home to more bots than the vast majority of nations have in their entire country,” said the report. 

Rich innovative spirit

Faramawy also emphasized the existence of a rich innovation spirit in Turkey, adding that the culture needed to be strengthened by various players, from the government to private companies and international organizations. 

“This is a country that has a very strong culture of innovation. Arts, music, Turkish dramas … Turkish people always come up with new things. That is fantastic. This is one of the reasons why I love Turkey and living here,” he said, adding that what was important was unleashing this innovative spirit and letting people try new things and make mistakes. 

“In the last 15 years, many technology parks have been established across Turkey. In cooperation with the state, private companies and international organizations, we need to find a way to help them more. We are talking about more than 50 technology parks. This is a good base. I am optimistic about this,” he added. 
The company has also showed a special emphasis on fueling a culture of innovation in Turkey. For instance, Microsoft is working with Turkish authorities to launch modules on learning coding in primary schools, according to company representatives. 

4 pillars of development

Faramawy said his suggestions to the government included modernizing technological infrastructure, improving the investment climate and the institutional capability of organizations that use technology, in addition to boosting innovation. 

“I believe that there are four pillars of economic and social development: The infrastructure, the investment climate, the institutional capability and innovation. On the institutional infrastructure side, I really like what the government is doing. Turkey has been in a big modernization process from airports, railways and road to others. I also appreciate the developments in 4G technologies and telecommunications. But I would also like to see higher internet quality and higher internet speed rates at lower costs. I would also like to see more different ways of reaching out to rural areas using new technologies at affordable prices,” he said. 

On the investment side, he appreciated the high labor quality in Turkey and asked for a series of measures in luring more investment, while also underlining the significance of improving the institutional capability of organizations that use technology, which he related to increasing cybersecurity standards. 

He also noted that there were some restrictions on cloud computing. 

“There is a worry about cloud computing. People are saying cloud computing is not secure, but this is not true. It is about how you structure your devices and design your security,” added Faramawy.

Top representatives from 20 global companies praised the Turkish economy’s investment climate following the failed July 15 coup attempt, while also voicing recommendations for improving stability and educational quality, conducting structural reforms, and prioritizing technology at the ninth Investment Advisory Council Meeting in Istanbul. 

“We are here to advise the government on prioritizing the maintenance of a stable macroeconomic environment to provide better predictability for investors, carrying forward the structural reform agenda, prioritizing the development of Information and Communications Technologies (ICT) as a strategic sector, elevating innovation through new generation of technology, and improving the quality of education in the period ahead until the next meeting,” they said in a concluding report.