Cyber security a national mandate in the UAE

The UAE is trying to increase the national workforce employability and participation in cyber security, deemed a national security issue.
The US national cyber security centre in Arlington, Virginia, was one of the first such centres in 2010. Now many other countries are building cyber security programmes, including the UAE. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo
The US national cyber security centre in Arlington, Virginia, was one of the first such centres in 2010. Now many other countries are building cyber security programmes, including the UAE. Scott Applewhite / AP Photo

ABU DHABI // The UAE is focusing on increasing the number of Emiratis working in cyber security, according to a professor from Abu Dhabi Polytechnic.

Dr Jamal Al Karaki, head of the information security engineering technology programme, said the university was planning to build two campuses, in the Western Region and Ajman, adding to its current campuses in Abu Dhabi and Al Ain.

“Cyber security has been identified as one of the homeland security needs,” Dr Al Karaki said. “So programmes were demanded and they’re considered as a national mandate.”

He said the UAE was trying to increase the national workforce employability and participation in this area.

“There’s a great deal of focus on it right now,” he said. “The whole world now is talking about cyber-security threats. The threat landscape is so huge that it makes the cyber-security threat a global issue, not just a local issue, and so many countries started working globally and making collaborations to counter this threat.”

Cyber security programmes are currently being developed in the UAE.

“We are building the people who will understand the nature of the target and thieves and how to defend against such attacks,” Dr Al Karaki said.

“The potential for security threats is compounded by increasing levels of inter-connectivity. Due to increasing dependence on online services and its associated digital infrastructure, and as businesses in the UAE are moving towards smart services, government and communities, the need to protect such critical businesses and ensure their continuity is inevitable.”

International security experts said that although the UAE was a good example of a strong collaboration between government and the private sector, there needed to be a better understanding of how to exchange information, ideas and intelligence.

“That’s a challenge,” said Sean Patrick O’Brien, vice president of urban matters and public security at SAP Labs, a software solutions provider, in France. “Cyber is not always as well understood with the law enforcement so they have to create an awareness with their organisation as to what the challenges and threats are.”

Mr O’Brien said that, ultimately, preparedness and awareness were vital.

“You need contingency plans and reactions to attacks,” he said. “You must be able to coordinate and mobilise as quickly as possible and be able to recover in the end. Cyber disasters are happening and will continue.”

cmalek@thenational.ae

Published: May 30, 2014 04:00 AM

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