How India, UAE, Israel are trying to build secure cyberspace

UAE cyber security head had recently visited India and Israel

56-The-UAE-based-EliteCISOs-signed-a-memorandum Inking safety: The UAE-based EliteCISOs signed a memorandum of understanding with Israel-based Cyber Together as part of a strategic cyber security partnership.

DR MOHAMED AL KUWAITI has been a busy man, of late. Kuwaiti, head of cyber security for the government of the United Arab Emirates, has been on his toes, what with the UAE being hard at work at cementing the India-UAE-Israel partnership for shaping a new Middle East. The partnership is based on regional security integration to beat common threats. The three countries are also building alliances to strengthen economies by creating food corridors and inking agreements on energy, transportation, trade and health care.

Cyber security is a shared responsibility that can never be addressed by one person, organisation or country alone. ―Dr Mohamed Al Kuwaiti, head of cyber security, UAE

For all future projects and partnerships, securing the digital space is key, and the cyber security heads of the three countries are joining forces. Take, for instance, Israel, which has cutting-edge technologies at its disposal. “Artificial intelligence is helping us create an Iron Dome in the Israeli cyber security space,” said Ronen Bar, director of Israel Security Agency, which is also known as the Shin Bet. Creating a cyber dome that goes beyond Israel’s cyberspace to help its partners is not a distant thought. And, it is wooing the UAE big time.

In the last fortnight, Kuwaiti travelled to two ends of a geostrategically significant arc―India and Israel. He carried a basketful of innovative ideas and technology for cooperation in cyber security to the two countries. His visit is symbolic in light of the I2U2 (India, Israel, the UAE and the US) grouping, reaffirming support to the Abraham Accords for Israeli-Emirati normalisation that transcends political or regional challenges.

New Delhi is an active partner in this strategic convergence. Predictably so, Kuwaiti’s first stop was India. He held hectic closed-door meetings with top cyber security officials of India’s National Security Council Secretariat with the aim to maximise innovation, entrepreneurial dynamism and technology in all four countries.

Top government sources said an India-UAE cyber partnership is in the works to create opportunities for both public and private sectors in the digital arena. This is besides offering innovative solutions for growing threats to the cyber security ecosystem that go beyond geographical boundaries and even human imagination. Israel is using its research and development labs in the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev in Be’er Sheva, its cyber capital, to create solutions for imminent threats from the misuse of AI, ChatGPT and the Internet of Things. With AI already being used for running trains and driverless buses, building smart homes and regulating water, power and all essential supplies and critical infrastructures, governments around the world can ill afford to be manipulated, said Dr Isaac Ben, director of Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Center at Tel Aviv, who is considered the father of cyber security in Israel.Moreover, radical terror groups like the Islamic State―the first terrorist organisation that recruited, trained and organised real-time terror attacks using online platforms―and its affiliates are a threat to the entire region. Besides this, the growing military and cyber heft of China has given enough reason to New Delhi to review its cyber preparedness in an entirely new way. And, it is looking at the UAE and Israel to play a huge role in securing its digital space and strengthening national security. It is the UAE’s moment under the sun, with Kuwaiti pitching Emirates as a hub for Israel to share its cutting-edge technological advancements and cyber security prowess, opening a floodgate of tie-ups between the two. “Cyber security is a shared responsibility that can never be addressed by one person, organisation or country alone,” said Kuwaiti, who attended the annual Cyber Week Conference at Tel Aviv. “Instead, it requires mutual collaboration between the private and public sectors. Partnership with the industry and academia is critical as it brings all stakeholders of the digital ecosystem together with a common vision.” The end result, he said, will be a more secure, resilient digital future, not only for the UAE but also for its partners and friends.The US cannot agree more. Whether it is Russia’s assault on Ukraine or Iran’s recent cyber attack on Albania’s critical digital infrastructure, the US is well aware of the fast-evolving dangers in cyberspace. Nathaniel C. Fick, US ambassador-at-large for cyberspace and digital policy, said joint efforts with Israel to build a defensible, resilient and rights-respecting digital ecosystem is the way forward. For all countries, trust is important, which is why Kuwaiti has been on a mission to give a personal touch to the bonding in cyberspace. The outcome has been promising. The UAE and Israel have decided to create a skilled workforce in cyberspace that understands the common threats and jointly blocks them. The UAE-based EliteCISOs, a global cyber security community, signed a memorandum of understanding with Cyber Together, an Israeli NGO. “This MoU, a strategic partnership between two leading cyber security stakeholders, further strengthens our relations and represents the shared benefits of the Abraham Accords beyond the relationship between governments to partnerships between organisations and people,” said Oded Joseph, deputy director general, head of Middle East Division in the ministry of foreign affairs of Israel.

India is not far behind and the next big partnership for New Delhi is being readied during GITEX Global, the world’s largest tech showcase in Dubai in October. The event will bring Israel, India and the rest of the world to the UAE and create new opportunities for technical collaboration in the region.