UAE boosts cyber defenses to thwart hackers

The UAE is working hard to build a secure digital economy with a highly secure and robust cloud infrastructure, said Dr. Mohammed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cybersecurity for the UAE Government.

In an exclusive interview with The National, Dr. Al Kuwaiti said that the key to the UAE’s success is working with several countries to strengthen its digital ecosystem and information technology infrastructure.

“We have state-of-the-art advanced cloud ecosystems that enable all businesses at different scales and government enterprises to conduct their business seamlessly here from the UAE,” Al Kuwaiti said on Monday.

One of the main reasons cybercrime and ransomware attacks in particular are on the rise is that most people just see them as someone else’s problem.

Dr. Mohammed Al Kuwaiti, Head of Cybersecurity, UAE Government

He was speaking on the sidelines of Intersec, a global emergency services, safety and security event taking place at the Dubai World Trade Centre. The event started on January 16 and will end on January 18.

“The UAE, like other countries, is going through digital transformations, which are increasing reliance on technology, and there are more and more of them, which opens up a wider threat landscape.

“We apply the latest cybersecurity technologies and back large or small businesses with top industry experts to help them if they are targeted by cybercriminals.”

Mr. Al Kuwaiti said Intersec was a great way to explore the latest technologies and innovative solutions to complex digital problems and to network with cybersecurity experts from around the world.

“We offer investors around the world [with] multiple platforms such as this conference, which helps us to cooperate and work with others to improve our cybersecurity, which is not the problem of one country. One of the main reasons cybercrime and ransomware attacks in particular are on the rise is that most people just see them as someone else’s problem.

Ransomware has become the biggest cybersecurity threat in recent years. It allows hackers to disable an organization’s computer system and hold its data hostage, demanding a ransom to decrypt it.

There is no precise data indicating the exact number of these attacks, as many of them may have gone unreported, with the victims paying the cybercriminals.

Cybercriminals are expected to attack a business, consumer or device every two seconds by 2031, according to New York-based research firm Cybersecurity Ventures.

He said ransomware damage cost the world about $20 billion, 57 times more than in 2015 at $325 million.

The company predicts that ransomware will cost victims around $265 billion by 2031.

Intersec conference manager Alex Nicholl said this year’s message is how to help various partners deal with large-scale digital disruptions and protect their systems from potential vulnerabilities.

“We have owned Intersec for 23 years and this is the first year that we have really focused on cybersecurity. We provide a platform that brings together a diverse group of public and private cybersecurity experts, cyber economists and ethical hackers,” said Nicholl. The National

“We have also partnered, for the first time, with the UAE Cyber ​​Security Council and plan to strengthen this partnership.”

Supply chain attacks

When hackers leave a message on a computer telling them how to contact them to decrypt locked data, there is little choice unless you have a strong backup system, said Dr. Al Kuwaiti, who holds a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering and Network Security from George Washington University.

“If you have a solid backup system for your data, along with a cybersecurity framework and cybersecurity posters, you don’t need to negotiate with these ransomware criminals,” he said. said, noting that most cyberattacks in the UAE fall into the categories of fraud, identity theft and data theft.

Ethical hacker Freaky Clown says third parties have become the weak link exploited by hackers to attack the critical infrastructure of large corporations and government agencies.  Antonie Robertson / The National

“A company should also perform a risk assessment to determine the cost of losing this data versus the ransom money. It depends on the decision of the administrators of this or that company in the end. The recommendation is not to negotiate and it is not obligatory,” he said.

“Cyberattacks increased by at least 200% last year, compared to 2020, in the United Arab Emirates and are topped by ransomware, email phishing, ddos [denial of service] and identity theft.”

Experts who track the actions of cybercriminal gangs and analyze hacking techniques said third parties have become the weakest link exploited by hackers to target the critical infrastructure of large corporations and government agencies.

“We call it supply chain attacks,” said ethical hacker Freaky Clown, one of Intersec’s keynote speakers. The National.

“Criminals are aware that large companies and entities have large defenses. This is of great concern because the ripple effects that can be triggered by a single attack, in particular, can compromise the cybersecurity of others in the supply chain.

Updated: January 18, 2022, 11:29 a.m.

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