UAE   United Arab Emirates Air Force (UAEAF) • القوات المسلحة لدولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة
United Arab Emirates (Dawlat al-Imārāt al-‘Arabīyah al-Muttaḥidah دولة الإمارات العربية المتحدة)

Emirates Air Force  •   •   •   •   •   •   • 

Cyber attacks on Persian Gulf infrastructure seen rising

Cyber attacks on Persian Gulf infrastructure seen rising

* Hackers show lack of understanding of the conflict's parties
* Experts and industry officials say attacks are increasing
* Iran target rather than threat of cyber attacks

The former chief of the United Arab Emirates' air force said his country's advanced cyber infrastructure made it a favourite target for hackers, especially when tension heightened in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.

"The last war in Gaza led to a barrage of cyber attacks because UAE has advanced telecommunications infrastructure," retired Major General Khaled al-Buainnain said.

"The biggest attack was during the 2006 Israel-Lebanon war which was carried out by pro-Israeli hackers who did not understand the nature of the conflict and its parties."

His comments came a few months after a virus infected 30,000 computers at Saudi Arabia's national oil company, Saudi Aramco, which said on Sunday the attack was aimed at stopping oil and gas production at the world's biggest oil exporter.

The attack failed to disrupt production, but was one of the most destructive cyber strikes against a single business.

Cyber attacks on infrastructure by hostile governments, militant groups or private "hacktivists" have the potential to disrupt oil and gas supplies to power plants and desalination plants, on which the Gulf states are heavily reliant.

"There is an interest at the political level in cyber security which has prompted investments in protection systems to protect the interest of the people, the government and national security," Buainnain said, speaking on the sidelines of a cyber security conference in Dubai.

"All the evidence that we have confirms that the attacks will increase," said Robert Eastman, vice president for global solutions at Lockheed Martin.

Eastman said Lockheed Martin, the Pentagon's top supplier, was in discussions with officials in Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates about the company's training and vulnerability analysis systems.

A company official estimated last month that 5 to 8 percent of Lockheed's revenues in the information systems sector were related to cyber security. Lockheed generated $9.4 billion sales in that division in 2011.


"All companies have to prepare response plans," said Hervi Meurie, general manager of C4 Advanced Solutions LLC, an Abu Dhabi-based technology and security firm. "What happens if the electricity network gets hit by a virus and goes down for three days?"

Iran, the target of international economic sanctions focused on its oil industry over its disputed nuclear programme, has been hit by several cyber attacks in the last few years.

In April, a virus targeted Iranian oil ministry and national oil company networks, forcing Iran to disconnect the control systems of oil facilities including Kharg Island, which handles most of the country's crude exports.

Iran has blamed some of the attacks on the United States, Israel and Britain; current and former U.S. officials told Reuters this year that the United States built the complex Stuxnet computer worm to try to prevent Tehran from completing suspected nuclear weapons work.

Buainnain said he believed Iran would remain the target of cyber attacks rather than a source for them.

"I don't think Iran poses any threat," he said. "I think their activity is less aggressive and more focused on intelligence gathering, they are in fact subject to cyber attacks because of the nuclear programme."

He said the UAE was in the process of creating a government body that will be responsible for handling cyber threats, adding that the National Electronic Security Authority was expected to be officially launched within the next few months.

While it is standard industry practice to shield plant operating networks from hackers by running them on separate systems, these have not been enough to fend off cyber attacks.

Qatar's natural gas firm Rasgas was hit by a cyber attack in September, although it has not said how much damage was caused or whether it was the same virus that hit Aramco.

Theodore Karasik, director of research at the Institute for Near East and Gulf Military Analysis which organised the conference, said governments and companies must stay on high alert.

"You're always in catch-up mode because the bad guys can out-think the good guys faster," he said. "The Gulf states need to stay as far ahead as possible given their enemies who may be more technically savvy."

Source: By Mahmoud Habboush, DUBAI (Reuters) - 10 December 2012

Photo: The United Arab Emirates Air Force F-16E Block60 Fighter Aircraft (Photo by files)




American Air Force News
African Air Force News
Asian Air Force News
European Air Force News
Middle Eastern AF News
Ocean Air Force News

• U.S. arms sales to UAE draw fire from 29 rights groups

Twenty-nine arms control and human rights organizations have signed a letter opposing the sale of $23 billion worth of missiles, fighter jets and drones to the United Arab Emira...>>

• Mighty task for C-130 Hercules in Middle East

Nearly 200 C-130 Hercules aircraft have been operated by Middle East air forces since the first was delivered to Iran in 1962. Alan Warnes reports....>>

• Gulfstream G650 Sets Speed Record Between Melbourne and Abu Dhabi

Demonstration Aircraft Makes Longest Duration Nonstop Flight Since Entering Service In 2012....>>

• IDEX: UAE Displays New AEW and Tanker, Buys Predato

This week’s IDEX defense exhibition in Abu Dhabi provided the first public view of the Saab 340AEW, purchased by the UAE Air Force and Air Defense as an interim airborne early-warn...>>

• UAE likely to buy 60 Eurofighter Typhoon jets

The latest version of Typhoon that the UAE intends to purchase is governed by some tactical and technical capabilities of the fighter...>>

• Airbus Delivers First of Three A330 Tankers to UAE

In February 2007 the UAE announced its selection of the EADS A330 MRTT as its next-generation aerial tanker, with secondary transport capabilities. In this industry, however, contr...>>


 Webmaster: REFLX DESIGN - © 2011 xairforces / Aviation Society,