UAE leaders warn cyber security is the ‘most challenging war’

UAE – The most challenging wars we face today do not involve missiles or soldiers, but cyber security and disinformation, the Executive Director of the National Electronic Security Authority has said, according to a report in The National newspaper.

Speaking to an audience at the Crown Prince Court’s Ramadan majlis, Dr Mohammed Al Kuwaiti warned that just something as simple as a child safety monitor can lead to a person’s entire household security system being hacked.

Hackers, who may have been monitoring the patterns of a person’s security, monitoring or smartphone use, could plant a monitoring system or virus via an infected link.

“Throughout this type of hacking, we see blackmailing mobs come out, organised crime and so on. They might use personal information to blackmail someone for money.”

One of the biggest challenges facing investigators is that “out of 51 victims, only one person reports such crimes”. This is because people are scared that reporting these sorts of crimes will mean that their private information or secrets will be exposed.

Dr Al Kuwaiti said that more awareness is needed to help people come forward.

He also warned that it’s not just personal devices and systems that are vulnerable, major organisations also undergo breaches, such as the one that exposed the personal information of Careem customers.

Another example Dr Al Kuwaiti gave was a beauty clinic whose system was hacked and the hackers published the before and after photos of their clients who had undergone slimming programmes.

“Every day we hear of hacking attempts, and God knows how we will be able to protect our children against them.”

Children are the subject of cyber bullying, and are being taught “radical extremist ideas” – like learning how to commit suicide through video games.

Nonetheless, hybrid wars are not new, they have been used as a method to avoid doing dirty work on the ground throughout history, and lessons can be learnt from what the UAE’s National Defence College is doing in terms or protective measures.

Amb Grigol Mgaloblishvili, a professor at the National Defence College and former prime minister of Georgia, said that we need to “build our resilience”.

“The National Defence College brings together not only military leaders or potential leaders, but also military and civilian leaders from the media or corporate world, to teach them how to deal with this kind of threat at a strategic level,” he said.

“And the first phase is how you assess your vulnerabilities.”