UAE government entities thwart 50,000 cyberattacks a day

For private sector companies, the numbers could double or triple the threats posed to the public sector

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Waheed Abbas

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Published: Mon 29 Jan 2024, 3:59 PM

Last updated: Mon 29 Jan 2024, 9:43 PM

The UAE’s public sector entities on average face and thwart 50,000 cybersecurity attacks a day and the number is growing due to geopolitical issues around the world, a senior official said on Monday.

Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cyber Security, UAE Government, said cyber threats now reach about 50,000 a day, touching the whole network of government entities which includes scanning, phishing email, DDoS and ransomware.

He added that the number of cybersecurity threats is increasing due to the “geopolitical situations” around the world in the region.

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The UAE has put in place tough measures against cyber threats which include financial penalties and imprisonment.

In October, the UAE Cyber Security Council signed a memorandum of understanding with Group-IB, a creator of cybersecurity technologies to investigate, prevent, and fight digital crime.

The two entities decided to establish a knowledge-sharing framework that will see all parties share information on the latest security threats, indicators of compromise, and novel tactics, techniques, and procedures leveraged by cybercriminals targeting the Middle East, Turkey, and Africa region.

With regard to cybersecurity attacks on the private sector, the UAE cybersecurity chief said the numbers could double or triple the threats posed to the public sector.

A recent study by Kaspersky revealed that 15 per cent of private sector companies in the UAE experienced cyber incidents due to insufficient cybersecurity investment in the last two years.

While speaking on the sidelines of the G[P]RC Summit in Dubai on Monday, Al Kuwaiti added that the ministries are working with the private sector to ensure the resilience of the private sector against such threats.

He added that the financial sector is most exposed to cybersecurity threats.

“UAE Banks Federation (UBF) is working with us for cyber training. Also, laws and policies are in place and we are working with the banks.”

He added that AI's role will be crucial not just in defending against cyber threats but also in developing many technologies to fulfil the public and private sector objectives. "During Gitex, we saw every single company there using AI. Every single government entity, as a matter of fact, already competing in order to use AI to help their customers to efficiently fulfil many repetitive works.”

He added that the UAE government’s cybersecurity unit is working with the public sector entities to ensure that designs and coding are right and the layers of security are in place.

He also said that Vision 2071 is for the UAE to be the AI nation, which would be reflected across different fields, ranging from transport to healthcare. The country's cybersecurity sector size is estimated to be worth Dh1.5 billion.

For Tor Inge Vasshus, founder and CEO of Corporater, AI can be a powerful tool when it comes to cybersecurity and other businesses, but it needs to be governed because it has risks to it, but it also has an upside to it. “So there is a need to manage both from a governance perspective when it comes to AI and cybersecurity. It is important to have good governance on the cybersecurity programme,” said the chief executive of Corporater, which delivers digital solutions for governance, performance and risk compliance.

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