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Call for strategy to fight cyber threats

Mohammad Abdul Qudoos / 20 May 2010

The UAE should have a strategy to defend itself against cyber crimes, cyber espionage and the possibility of a cyber war, an expert on security said.

“We should know who can and will attack us and we should be able to defend ourselves,” Richard A. Clarke, who has served three consecutive US presidents as senior White House advisor, said in a lecture, “Cyber War: The next Threat to the UAE’s National Security”, at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.

Praising the UAE’s role at the UN and GCC level against cyber threats, he said, “Diplomacy is one way to deal with these threats at the international level. Diplomacy and dialogue can be used to control them. The UAE has a great role to play in creating an international system of cyber teeth.”

Every nation is vulnerable to cyber threat, including the UAE, since it is one of the most wired nations in the world, he said. Masdar’s (Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company) work on alternativee energy, for instance, could be of interest to many and espionage in a modern society can come from anywhere in the world. 

Clarke said there is no international regulatory authority to control cyber threat although non-governmental organisations might exist. There is also the need for an international law on cyber war.  However, agreements would have little effect.

Cyber crimes have become a multibillion-dollar industry, as big as narcotics cartels. A few criminals have been caught and many are protected by nations. Through cyber espionage, corporations can within hours lose information that can fill 10 libraries. Both corporations and nations are involved in cyber espionage, he said.

Espionage techniques are used to cause damage and destruction to the enemy in a cyber war. These activities are possible by hackers because of faulty software.

Cyber attacks can affect a nation’s power grid and transport system and destroy a country’s banking system and economy, he said, giving examples of many countries which, he said, have used cyber attacks in wars.  “We should be able to protect out fibre system and data farms.” Clarke said  terrorist organisations have not used cyber attacks. — qudoos@khaleejtimes.com

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