DUBAI/JERUSALEM (Reuters) – The United Arab Emirates and Israel share threats to their national online networks, the Israeli cyber-security chief said on Thursday in a rare public discussion of potential cooperation with his counterpart following the normalisation of relations.
The establishment of formal Israel-UAE ties over the last month – spurred in part by common worries about Iran – unleashed a flurry of bilateral deals, including on cyber technologies, Israeli exports of which were valued at $6.5 billion in 2019.
“We are threatened by the same threats … because of the nature of the region, because of the nature of our new, ‘outed’ relations and because of who we are – strong economically and technologically,” Igal Unna, head of Israel’s National Cyber Directorate, told UAE counterpart Mohamed al-Kuwaiti in an online conference.
“We see already things in fast progress and I am very optimistic that we have a lot in common and a lot to share.”
Kuwaiti described the UAE as potentially at risk of online sabotage including ransomware attacks as it develops its digital sphere. He promoted the idea of international cooperation – including in joint exercises – in cyber defence.
“Israel is very well-known on the technological part and that will really help,” Kuwaiti said.
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Doron Hadar, commander of the Israeli military’s crisis negotiation unit, said during the conference that dealing with ransomware attacks is “not a ‘win/lose situation’, it’s a ‘lose/lose less’ situation. So (with) the right negotiation and dialogue … you will manage the situation and you’ll survive.”
Kuwaiti described normalisation with Israel as a “step forward” for the UAE government as it pursued things like smart government and artificial intelligence technologies. The UAE valued its cyber-security market at $490 million last year.
Neither Kuwaiti nor Unna explicitly named threats to their countries. Israel has elsewhere described itself as in a cyber-war with arch-foe Iran.
Writing by Lisa Barrington and Dan Williams; Editing by Nick Macfie
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