UAE was hit by spate of cyber attacks after Israel deal, top Emirati official says

Mohamed Al Kuwaiti told the Gitex tech conference the country's financial sector was the target

epa08671211 Flags of the United States, Bahrain, Israel and the United Arab Emirates during a signing ceremony of the 'Abraham Accords' on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, DC, USA, 15 September 2020.  EPA/Chris Kleponis / POOL

The UAE was the target of cyber attacks after establishing formal ties with Israel, the country's cyber security chief said on Sunday.

Mohamed Al Kuwaiti said the financial sector was the target but did not elaborate.

He declined to say if the attacks were successful or to identify the perpetrators.

The UAE normalised relations with Israel in September in a ceremony at the White House in Washington DC, along with Bahrain. Sudan has since made a similar deal.

"Our relationship, for example, with the normalisation with Israel really opened ... attacks from some other activists against the UAE," Mr Al Kuwaiti said during an onstage interview on the first day of Gitex, Dubai's annual technology exhibition.

He also said that the number of cyber attacks in the UAE increased sharply after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Mr Al Kuwaiti said traditionally many attacks in the region originate from Iran, without specifying who is behind them, Reuters reported.

Mr Al Kuwaiti, a highly regarded cyber security expert, previously said Israel has the "best talent in the field" and that the two countries will work together to thwart threats to the digital realm.

In May, a survey by cybersecurity company Proofpoint found 80 per cent of companies and organisations in the UAE said they had been subject to at least one cyber attack the previous year.

The survey of senior IT managers said credential theft and phishing, tactics used to gain access to financial accounts and other sensitive information, were the most common types of attack.

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