The UAE at the forefront of fighting cybersecurity threats

As the world has become more prone to cyber-attacks, the UAE has been actively implementing several cybersecurity initiatives to protect its citizens and businesses from these threats

By Hans-Peter Bauer

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Wed 14 Feb 2024, 10:11 PM

In line with the UAE’s vision to lead in artificial intelligence (AI) by 2031 through its AI Strategy, every business must have a dedicated roadmap with clear strategic objectives, emphasizing the vital integration of AI safety and ethics within their operations. By prioritizing responsible development and implementation, the UAE aims to bring together innovation and ethical considerations in pursuit of AI excellence.

The emergence and continued development of AI is creating endless new possibilities in the world of cybersecurity. Threats and weaknesses can be detected faster and more accurately, and the speed of action of security teams is faster than ever with AI. This is badly needed because as with all new resources that help humanity move forward, new techniques are also eagerly sought after by cybercriminals.

Cybersecurity teams are already using AI and Machine Learning (ML) to keep cybercriminals out. Advanced cybersecurity solutions use such technologies to automatically detect attacks, quickly monitor large volumes of data traffic, detect fraud patterns, and even predict attacks.

On the other hand, those same AI assets can be used for activities of a more malicious nature. From creating more successful phishing emails to generating deepfakes. With the increasing popularity of AI, the cat-and-mouse game between hackers and security professionals has been taken to a new level.

Taking phishing to the next level

Consumers across the UAE are always being cautioned to remain vigilant against fraudsters impersonating companies or official bodies and unexpected text messages purportedly sent by reputable courier companies as they may be phishing scams. The UAE's largest telecoms operator, Etisalat by e&, and Dubai Police also issued similar warnings recently, alerting the public to fake reward notifications and fraudulent fine payment requests.

Phishing emails could be identified more easily by language errors and were also impersonal. With the rise of ChatGPT, attackers can now generate personalized phishing messages based on messages that have been successful in the past or contain certain details that make the message more credible. Employees must therefore be trained even better in recognizing phishing emails and ask themselves more often: "Is this link safe?" because it is increasingly difficult to see at first glance.

Deepfakes of acquaintances

The fact that deepfakes can cause a lot of damage is no longer news. But other variants of deepfakes are popping up these days. AI bots can generate or imitate voices, and even videos. Cybercriminals can now pose as one of a company's executives to convince employees to share money, and personal or company information. This technique is the next development of the now well-known WhatsApp fraud, only people are now called by a computer, with the voices of family members, friends, or colleagues being faked.

In a recent incident, the Dubai police arrested 43 people who were believed to be involved in an international syndicate that used AI-powered deepfake technology to steal $36 million (Dh131.4 million) from two Asian companies. This reflects the increased complexity of cyber threats and the importance of having robust measures in place to be able to combat such attacks.

Widespread dissemination of false information

With the help of AI, it is easier than ever for hackers to send false information out into the world, with which they can influence public opinion on a large scale. Fake news and misinformation can cause enormous chaos. Suppose you suggest that certain stocks (or cryptocurrencies) become valuable, you can create hype among investors. Companies and individuals then invest money in these stocks, artificially increasing their value. This is a lucrative scam for criminals who have already purchased part of the shares (or cryptocurrency) in advance. In addition, there is the opportunity for malicious groups to influence public opinion, reputation, and political and social issues.

Reputational damage due to fake email

Furthermore, generative AI allows you to recreate highly realistic email exchanges. They can cause considerable reputational damage. Suppose an AI model makes it appear that executives are talking to each other by email about how they are trying to cover up a financial shortfall. If that email exchange then "leaks out" and is distributed via social media bots, the reputational damage is incalculable – but could include things like customer and employee turnover, and a plummet in business value, as a potential consequence.

To counter the potential harm of such AI threats, cybersecurity teams must take proactive and preemptive action. By fighting fire with fire – using AI to protect against AI – you level the playing field. This ensures that AI applications are secured and threats are fended off using the power of AI.

It goes without saying that AI offers great potential to continuously improve cyber security. It is essential for cybersecurity teams and business owners to keep in mind that every new development also comes with new opportunities for criminals. Relying on your own, sometimes outdated, techniques and manual processes to defend yourself is no longer possible in the age of lightning-fast developments.

As the world has become more prone to cyber-attacks, the UAE has been actively implementing several cybersecurity initiatives to protect its citizens and businesses from these threats. The UAE launched the second cycle of the Dubai Cyber Security Strategy to establish a safe and secure cyberspace and strengthening the city's digital infrastructure. Several other initiatives were also launched under the Strategy’s umbrella, which aim to enhance cybersecurity capabilities, raise awareness on cybersecurity issues, and more.

Embracing ethical AI practices and robust cybersecurity measures collectively pave the way for a secure and responsible technological future.

(Hans-Peter Bauer, Senior Vice-President EMEA, BlackBerry)

More news from Opinion