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UAE recognises importance of cyber security, says official

Like the UK, the UAE federal government has identified the importance of creating an environment in which it is safe to do business online

There is a strong emphasis on cyber security in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), according to an official of the National Electronic Security Authority.

Like the UK, the UAE federal government has identified the importance of creating an environment in which it is safe to do business online. It is a key objective of the UK cyber security strategy.

“We aim to create a digitally secure environment with the emphasis on shared responsibility,” Saif Al Nuaimi told the first RSA Conference in Abu Dhabi.

As the UAE’s economy has advanced from being based on pearl diving and oil to a digital economy, it has become increasingly reliant on ICT.

“We have the largest marine terminal and airport in the region, while Dubai is emerging as a global financial hub and several smart cities are being developed, but all are reliant on ICT,” said Nuaimi.

“The federal government has declared 2015 the year of innovation and has developed an innovation strategy,” he added. 

In the UAE, people are using smartphones to do things such as access online banking, transfer funds, manage investments, book travel, carry out vehicle registration and apply for national ID.

However, Nuaimi said that with increased connectivity comes increased risk. “Attackers will always follow the path of least resistance and look for the weakest link, which is why everyone needs to be aware that security requires a joint effort by all and that no person or entity is immune from being a target of cyber attack,” he said.

This means that everyone should think about cyber security in everything they do. “For example, project managers should ensure that security is built in, that it is part of any project from the design phase onwards,” said Nuaimi.

Security by design is an approach to software and hardware development that seeks to make systems as free of vulnerabilities and impervious to attack as possible through such measures as continuous testing, authentication safeguards and adherence to best programming practices.

It is being increasingly advocated by information security professionals, particularly in places like the UAE where new and emerging technologies are quickly adopted by commercial enterprises to drive and grow their businesses.

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