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Israeli and Emirati cyber chiefs discuss shared threats and joint moves to overcome them

Israeli and Emirati cyber chiefs discuss shared threats and joint moves to overcome them

"We see already things in fast progress and I am very optimistic that we have a lot in common and a lot to share," says Yigal Unna

Reuters | 19:29  24.09.2020

The United Arab Emirates and Israel share threats to their national online networks, Israeli's cyber-security chief Yigal Unna said on Thursday in a rare public discussion of potential cooperation with his counterpart following the normalisation of relations.

"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," Unna 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."

Yigal Unna, head of Israel Yigal Unna, head of Israel's National Cyber Directorate. Photo: Tommy Harpaz Yigal Unna, head of Israel

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.

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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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.

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