Interview with the KOICA Scholarship Program Alumni - (+PHOTO)

Interview with the KOICA Scholarship Program Alumni (+PHOTO)

Name Ms. Leyla Aliyeva
Position and Organization Head Advisor for Operation Sector / Cyber Security Service under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies

Background:
KOICA Master Program: “KOICA-SSU Master's Degree Program in Global ICT Convergence with Management and Public Policy” / 2016-08-15~2017-12-20
KOICA Project: “Establishment of Educational Center for e-Government in Azerbaijan” for Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan 2013~2015 (final stage 26.08.2014~07.11.2014)
KOICA Training Program: “E-Government Security (Azerbaijan)” / 2013.8.1~2013.8.31
Interview Date: June 2018
Interview Venue: Azerkitab Book Café
Interview:


Please briefly introduce yourself and your linkage with the KOICA Programs?

-My name is Leyla Aliyeva, I am working as the Head Advisor of Cyber Security Service under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan. I participated in “E-Government Security (Azerbaijan)” KOICA training program in 2013, studied “KOICA-SSU Master's Degree Program in Global ICT Convergence with Management and Public Policy” in 2016-2017 and participated in the final stage of the KOICA project titled “Establishment of Educational Center for e-Government in Azerbaijan” for the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan in 2015.
-I would like to specially emphasize that while working at the final stage of the KOICA Project (26.08.2014~07.11.2014), our Service was newly established, despite that we were responsible for conducting penetration testing and security audit for the system. I was the one, who had to accomplish penetration tests, analyze test results and prepare detailed technical test reports for the project. On the other hand, I was responsible for the final security level decision of the project. Even today I am in charge of the security of the system. We regularly, as well as, based on the special requests of the Ministry, realize penetration tests and audits of the system. But daily safety tests of the Center’s System are done by the network and system administrators of the Education Center.
What brought you to participate in this program?
-As information technologies turned to an integral part of our daily lives, cyber security has become a priority direction for all countries in the world. Azerbaijan wasalso climbing up at the ranking on ITU’s ICT Development Index year by year, and being the leader among the South Caucasus countries. The works done on construction of Sumgait Technologies Park and Pirallahi HighTech Park, show the interest of Azerbaijan on development of the IT sector.
-Moreover, Azerbaijan took some important measures on the establishment of relevant governmental organizations closely related to the ICT. Hence, Cyber Security Service under the Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies of the Republic of Azerbaijan has been established in 2013, and I was one of the first employees of the Service. During that time I could experience how the Azerbaijan was lack of and in need of cyber security. The process of hiring employees, installing equipments, preparing principles for the Service was really hard, as we started everything from Zero. Although the Cyber Security Service provides several services such as reporting on existing and potential threats in the field of cyber security at country level, collects and analyzes information incoming from users, software and hardware products, carries out of remedial actions in order to prevent the cyber attacks and so on, still we are in need of support and experience of leader countries in the field. As the Republic of Korea is the leader country in IT and having a broad experience in cyber security, its experience is very important for Azerbaijan, as well. Considering all these reasons, to participate in a training in Korea, to visit different organizations related cyber security and studying IT related master’s degree program in the IT leader country was the best way to improve my skills and gain new knowledge in this field.

How did the Scholarship Program help you?


-During my study in Korea, I got a chance to visit different IT and cyber security organizations, to get to know more about innovation ecosystems and also meet highly qualified professionals of Korea who work in different international and local organizations such as SK Telecom, KISA, AhnLab, NIPA, etc. On the other hand, thanks to this Program I shared my experience with my colleagues and many people from different countries. I know many people who decided to study in Korea after learning more about this amazing country and its magic economy development strategy. Besides, I had presentations related my research and experience about Korea not only in the organization I wok, and also in many public and private organizations, such as ASAN service, Ministry of Transport, Communications and High Technologies, NISA, etc. This program made me grow in my career; especially the courses on “ICT Policy Development”, “Information Security”, “International Development Cooperation” and “Artificial Intelligence” were very useful for my professional duties in Cyber Security Service.

Would you tell us about the most memorable experiences that you had through the activities of the Scholarship Program?


-I have many memorable moments and experiences related Korea and KOICA Scholarship Program. It is hard for me to pick one of them, but I will try to speak about the best one. For me the most memorable one was our visit to Korean Folk Village. In this village we experienced Korean Traditional shows with horses and national music tools, saw Korean traditional houses and learned more about Korean history and culture.
-Related to my profession we visited SK Telecom Office, and although it is confidential and really hard to visit cyber security or monitoring centers in any other countries, KOICA gave us an opportunity to visit SK Telecom Monitoring Center and closely check and look inside the monitoring system, such as how the network is attacked by hackers, how it is solved at real time and so on.
-Furthermore, while visiting Incubation Centers in Korea, we could experience how the Korea offers services in the fields of affordable space, mentoring, seed funding, networking and many others, in one word, assist startups with starting their own venture and watching it turn into a successful businesses. It is really amazing support for the startups.

What impressed you most and what were the hardest things during your stay in Korea?


-What I love about Korean culture most is to see how much people respect to each other and how much they love their language, motherland and culture. I always loved seeing Korean people smiling each other, welcoming foreigners and doing their best to represent their culture in the best way. The hardest thing for me was - me not being able to speak Korean well, because I had just one semester Korean classes and did not have enough time to learn more. I am sure that if I knew Korean well, I was going to have more experience in communicating with Koreans and learn more about this fascinating country.

Have you travelled much in Korea?


-Yes, I did Honestly, I spent every weekend in different cities of Korea. There is something more to mention about it. One of the best things I experienced in Korea is to have free trips to all parts of Korea and see new places.

Which impression did Korea have on you?


-With just one sentence: I love Korea very much.After my first visit to Korea in 2013, I decided to study in Korea and went back there in 2016. The reason was fast development of Korea after wars. I was amazed how a country could develop its economy and become one of the leaders in the world in such a short period. I always wanted to learn more about this magic development of Korea. I am always grateful to KOICA for giving me this unique chance to study, to learn and experience more about this country.


Already 6 months have passed since returning to your home country, can you tell us how you are utilizing the experiences you have learned through the KOICA Program, how you contributed to your organization and your government?
-I did research on “Developing an Effective National Cyber Security Strategy” as part of my master’s degree program. I would like to mention that Azerbaijan has no its own national cyber security strategy.This research I have done and its results played an important role in Azerbaijan on developing a national cyber security strategy in 2018.The Draft Proposal on the Strategy will be submitted to the Cabinet of Ministers on June 13, 2018 and after that to the Country President’s attention.
-Besides, I implement the experience and lessons I learned from Korea. On the other hand, as part of improving cyber security in Azerbaijan, thanks to Korean experience I offered a new action plan for Azerbaijan on capacity building in cyber security, as well. On the other hand, I had many speeches in public and private organizations related my experience in Korea, especially about innovation ecosystems, modern government structure, policy development, research method and international development cooperation. I usually share my experience of visiting different organizations in Korea, with my colleagues in my organization and also in different agencies. Especially, the modern and unique self-governing city Sejong is very interesting and important model for Azerbaijan.


Finally, what advice would you give to those wishing to apply for the KOICA Scholarship Program?

-KOICA Scholarship Programs are very competitive because of its quality and the knowledge it gives to scholars. I always suggest to new candidates to define what they want to achieve by applying the program, because without determining the goal it is hard to get new achievements. I suggest them to learn more about Korea, Korean culture and especially to spend more time for learning Korean language, to pay more attention for preparing their documents for application procedure, to tell more about what they want to achieve during their interviews, and do their best to become a KOICA alumni member.


Lastly, please tell us about your future plans and aspirations?


-Honestly, my education in Korea opened new doors for me in my career path. Hence, I could always notice how officials and representatives of other countries are impressed about my study in Korea. After graduating KOICA Master’s Degree program I got a chance to continue my research in Germany under supervision of USA Army members for 5 weeks. Besides, I had an opportunity to have 6-weeks internship in USA. I am sure my education in Korea was always a good reference in achieving this stage in my career. For future, I am planning to implement new projects for Azerbaijan in the field of cyber security such as developing national cyber security policy, establishing digital forensics laboratory and implementing new education programs in this field based on my experience I gained from Korea.
-Furthermore, while living in Korea I could closely experience the magic and dynamic development of Korea on Transportation, R&D and IT sectors, and I realized Azerbaijan’s necessity of developing these spheres either. I wish I could be the part of improving these sectors in Azerbaijan in future by leaning on and learning the experience and know-how of Korea.


Do you have any requests or message you would like to address to KOICA HQ or KOICA Azerbaijan Office through this interview?


-I would like to thank to all KOICA staff for everything they have done for me. I appreciate KOICA’s support and scholarship programs, and I am confident to state that KOICA has broad impact on making this world a better place. I would always be grateful to KOICA for giving me these chances to learn and experience, especially to achieve many of my goals. KOICA has made a big change in my life by organizing this Scholarship Program. Thank you very much for everything.


Thank you.
 

 
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