Crown Prince of Dubai launches cyber index to promote online safety standards

The initiative will rank government entities to encourage competition between them to promote cyber security best practice

United Arab Emirates, July 9, 2020

Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed, Crown Prince of Dubai, on Wednesday launched the Dubai Cyber Index – an initiative aimed at encouraging government entities to adopt the highest standards of cyber security.

The index, created by Dubai Electronic Security Centre, is aimed at promoting healthy competition among government entities in applying information security standards. Its aim is to make Dubai the city 'with the safest cyberspace in the world', according to a Dubai government media office statement.

“The index will create a strong foundation for a free, safe and resilient online world for both individual users and organisations … it is also part of the city’s efforts to drive rapid technological progress and digital transformation,” the statement said.

One of the main objectives of the index is to highlight government departments' readiness to deal with cyber crises and emergency situations.

“The index will measure the progress and readiness of the emirate’s government entities to assess cyber risks and deter threats,” Major Generail Talal Humaid Belhoul Al Falasi, chairman of the DESC, said.

This will raise the security and safety standards of Dubai’s electronic infrastructure, said Maj Al Falasi, adding that creating a robust, supportive framework was critical to ensuring the security and safety of information systems.

“This is particularly important as the world we live in is characterised by a constantly evolving communication technology landscape … and is increasingly dependent on advanced technologies such as artificial intelligence and big data.”

DESC will also support government entities in setting up specialist security centres and using technologies such as AI and big data analytics to predict potential cyber threats.

The UAE's telecoms regulator recorded a 32.7 per cent monthly rise in cyber attack attempts against the country’s federal government entities in June.

More than 103,000 attempts were stopped last month, an increase of over 25,000 on May's numbers, according to the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority.

Seventy-three per cent of the cases were related to malware, 15 per cent were attempts to exploit systems and 12 per cent were phishing attempts.

Meanwhile, Gulf countries continue to be attractive to cyber criminals, thanks to their growing digital footprint.

The average cost of data breaches in the UAE and Saudi Arabia was $5.9 million (Dh21.65m) in 2019, a 12.4 per cent year-on-year increase, according to a report by IBM Security. This is second only to the US, which has the highest total average cost per data breach of $8.19m.

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