New strategy to beat cyber threats

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Prime Minister and ruler of Dubai, said cyber-security had become essential with the spread of smart technologies.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid called for the Government and private sector to combine and make Dubai a world leader in cyber security.

DUBAI // Innovation and expertise will help to make Dubai’s new cyber security strategy a game-changer for the emirate, experts say.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, announced the strategy last week, saying cyber security had become essential as the world becomes more connected by smart technology.

“Developing strategies that enable the UAE to maximise the benefits of technology and ensure the nation’s readiness to face any challenges it may bring is important,” he said.

“We have set ourselves firmly on a path of excellence and creativity, and with the launch of the strategy we are adding a new achievement to the list of the government’s many accomplishments. This proves to the world that the more challenges we face, the more determined we are to achieve the highest excellence.”

Sheikh Mohammed called for the efforts of the government and private sector to combine to ensure a secure cyberspace that would make Dubai digitally the safest city in the world.

“We want to harness technology to create a new reality in Dubai – a new model of development,” he said.

With the recent WannaCry virus attack which affected 150 countries, experts said the move was vital.

“The most important thing about the strategy is the idea of setting the tone from the top,” said Eddie Schwartz, executive vice president of cyber services at Dark Matter, a security firm that works with the UAE’s public and private sectors.

“It is saying that we are serious about cyber security and everyone must fall in line. There’s a destination in mind and there’s a lot of different dimensions to that destination.”

The strategy aims to provide integrated protection against the dangers of cyberspace, support for innovation in cyberspace and the growth of the emirate and its economic prosperity.

“Some of the things I see in this strategy that we haven’t seen necessarily in other government strategies is a very strong commitment to the idea of innovation,” Mr Schwartz said.

“For example, the promotion of research and development is something I’ve heard many private-sector organisations complain was lacking with other government strategies, yet here we’re seeing a commitment to that and look for ways to improve cyber security through investment and innovation.”

Another area is the idea of a smart society.

“One of the biggest problems in the world today is the lack of cyber expertise,” Mr Schwartz said.

“More than two million cyber jobs unfilled by 2020, so by creating a commitment to a cyber society means Sheikh Mohammed is saying the UAE won’t fall in that bucket, there will be more jobs for cyber security and a necessary private and public-sector partnership to create this smart society.

“This means creating these efforts in universities, training programmes within the government sector and incentivising the private sector the right way.”

Cyber attacks are on the rise, and the trend is expected to continue.

“The strategy is by far one of the most complex and sophisticated forward-leaning effort by a government anywhere to make sure the federal and local governments work together to protect its citizens,” said Matthew Cochran, chairman of Defence Marketing Services Council in Abu Dhabi.

“It provides the UAE and Dubai specifically with new smart city tools that will be able to address and push back future cyber attacks faster and with greater cyber security innovation invented right here in the UAE with homegrown expertise and elements to battle viruses.”