UAE cyber head: Israeli intel. sharing helps deter hacking attempts

1st public appearance of Israel, UAE cyber officials together

A United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag waves alongside an Israeli flag (photo credit: REUTERS/CHRISTOPHER PIKE)
A United Arab Emirates (UAE) flag waves alongside an Israeli flag
UAE Head of NCSC Muhammad Al-Kuwaiti said on Thursday that Israeli intelligence sharing is helping his country deter and resolve hacking attempts.
In a first for Israeli and UAE cyber chiefs, al-Kuwaiti and Israel National Cyber Directorate (INCD) Chief Yigal Unna were both appearing as part of a Tel Aviv University virtual conference.
Responding to questions about the impact of Israeli-UAE cyber cooperation now that the countries recently signed normalization deals, al-Kuwaiti said that “it has been really a positive and added value to many sectors and aspects” of defending the UAE from hacking.
Continuing, he said, “it’s a plus... that will help us on many collaborations and with digital transformation. Israel is very well known for technology... and cyber security... In less than a month, many of the emergency response teams are sharing information.”
Noting that the UAE is sharing cyber know-how with many nations, he said, “adding to that Israeli sharing... adds a new ecosystem.
There are many new [kinds of examples of potential] attacks” which Israel can share and which “we might not have seen before” until it was too late to prepare for them.
Al-Kuwaiti said this sharing, “will help us in deterring [hackers] jointly and together and to allow all of these [new] business [ventures to] easily work together,” without having to worry about getting hacked as much.
In his opening remarks, Unna greeted al-Kuwaiti in Arabic, saying, “My brother, I am happy for this great opportunity and for the start of fruitful and successful cooperation between each of us, with god’s help.”
Next, Unna said, “Both our countries… are not big, we have [almost] the same [total] population, we have strong academics, a high-level population [educationally], with” a big focus on hi-tech.
“We are threatened by the same threats, maybe even a little more than the rest of the world because of the nature of the region because of the new relationship and because of who we are - strong economically and technologically,” said the INCD chief.
Unna added, “If we are more threatened, we should join hands and work together. The UAE has a lot to offer to Israel and Israel has a lot to offer the UAE.”
He said cyber professionals in both countries were “just waiting to begin. The natural thing was finally our leaders paved the way to work [together]. As we see…from the first meeting in Abu Dhabi, things are [moving with] fast progress.”
Maj.-Gen. (ret.) Yitzhak Ben Israel, who directs the cyber program at Tel Aviv University and heads a task force dealing with quantum computing, made comments about the importance of that field in changing the future of encryption.
Ben Israel said that quantum computing would render virtually all current forms of encryption obsolete, leaving the world much more open to hacking that even now.
However, he added that quantum encryption might develop faster than quantum computing’s offensive hacking uses and that this could help mitigate the potential damage.