New telecommunications regulator takes office

The UAE's computer systems have yet to be attacked by cyberterrorists, but the threat remains, regulators say.

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DUBAI // The UAE's government and private computer systems have yet to be attacked by cyberterrorists, but the threat remains, the country's incoming top telecommunications regulator said yesterday. The UAE has not suffered large-scale attacks by other cybercriminals, but must be on guard in the future and work with neighbouring countries, Mohamed Naseer al Ghanim said.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the Middle East IT Security Conference at the Etisalat Academy in Dubai after his inauguration as the director general of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA). There have been no threats from within the country, he said, "but as the region develops and GCC corporations continue to grow, cybercriminals will look to target the region and we have to be prepared".

Mr Ghanim said the authority's priority is to have "a completely secure system by 2009 that protects all our interests". During his inaugural speech, he said that co-operation among civic, security, government, private and technical sectors was crucial to securing IT networks controlling such areas as the government, defence and the economy. "Information security awareness is a culture that needs to be developed. The need for effective security awareness nationally is as vital to our national development as every other form of technology-related education.

"Since the TRA took charge of the .ae domain-name administration, we have launched the 'trustee' initiative...where online providers will be required to comply with a stringent code of conduct for online business practices. There has not been any attack by "terrorist groups" on UAE networks and the likelihood for such an attack to occur is minimal, he said. Nevertheless, vigilance must be maintained.