Huawei to help establish UAE as cyber security hub

Protecting the digital future of Emiratis and UAE residents is the company's main priority, its chief security officer says

Huawei executive Aloysius Cheang says the company plans to assist the UAE in setting up a foolproof cyber framework Huawei
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Huawei is working with various government entities to establish the UAE as a “globally trusted digital oasis” that is safe from potential cyber threats, according to its chief security officer for the UAE.

The Shenzhen-based company created the new post of CSO last October amid the Covid-19 pandemic to help the Emirates achieve its goal of setting up smart cities and e-governments while "keeping the nation's critical infrastructure safe", said Aloysius Cheang.

Huawei was also appointed co-chair of the 5G security working group of the Organisation of the Islamic Co-operation's computer emergency response team at the recently held Gulf Information Security Expo and Conference in Dubai.

It was given the mandate to ensure end-to-end cyber security for OIC member states.

"As the country accelerates its digital transformation journey, we have come up with infallible solutions and safe designs to ensure the confidentiality of data and safety of critical infrastructure," Mr Cheang told The National on the sidelines of the conference.

In the UAE, Huawei is working to train local talent in cyber security and enter into public-private partnerships to create a “robust security system”.

"The cyber threat landscape is continuously changing ... it knows no borders. Every day is a new challenge, it will hit you without you even knowing it ... like what happened with [the] SolarWinds and Colonial Pipeline breaches."

“Therefore, to build local capacity and enable a foolproof environment, we aim to have more cyber security professionals on ground. Huawei has adjusted to the local conditions and drafted a tailor-made strategy to address the regional requirements.”

Rapid digitisation and the growing number of connected devices have increased the cyber threat risk faced by companies and people, particularly in the Middle East.

The cost of a data breach in the UAE and Saudi Arabia rose by 9.4 per cent last year to $6.53 million a breach on average, according to IBM Security.

The figure is higher than the global average of $3.86m a breach and is the second-highest average among the 17 regions surveyed.

Huawei, which has been accused by the US of carrying out espionage through its products, a charge it has repeatedly denied, is one of the main players in the countrywide installation of 5G networks in the UAE.

People walk past a Huawei store in Beijing, China June 3, 2021. REUTERS/Tingshu Wang
Huawei is one of the main players in the countrywide installation of 5G in the UAE. Reuters

“Huawei is always trying to do more and increase its security investment in this region to support various PPP projects that we have committed,” said Mr Cheang. He did not specify how much Huawei aims to invest in the UAE.

“Most of the cyber criminals are motivated by quick financial gains. Due to the presence of many high-worth targets in the Middle East, this region is always on the radar of cyber criminals.”