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Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 17 November 2018

Cyber security is 'number one priority' for companies in the UAE

Amazon and Hewlett Packard chiefs on how the battle against cyber criminals is evolving

Cyber security is at th top of the agenda at the Gitex event at Dubai World Trade Centre. Reem Mohammed/The National
Cyber security is at th top of the agenda at the Gitex event at Dubai World Trade Centre. Reem Mohammed/The National

Leading technology firms say protecting UAE customers from the threat of cyber criminals remains their "number one priority".

Speaking on the second day of Gitex Technology Week, Hewlett Packard and Amazon chiefs said they are continuing to step up security in order to combat an always evolving danger.

Networks can be attacked by people hacking into printers, meaning companies can never afford to let their guard down in the fight against cyber crime.

Amazon announced that it is opening two new centres in Dubai and Fujairah to improve their cloud services in the region - and further bolster security.

“It will mean that you will not have to make multiple hops anymore to get to the Amazon network and it will make it easier to stop attacks closer to the customers,” said Zubin Chagpar, head of public sector business for the Middle East and Africa, Amazon Web Services.

He said Amazon Web Services (AWS) is a subsidiary of the shopping website, with a number of well-known companies using its cloud services.

These include taxi app Careem, AirBNB, Dubizzle and Netflix who all use AWS’ cloud services to store data on.

“Usually if you wanted to access data you would have to use one of our data centre regions in Europe, Singapore or the US,” he said.

“Now it gets cached locally. We spent a lot of time working with customers looking at where we could add layers of protection. Security is job zero, it is our number one priority.”

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While the level of security has never been more advanced, the threats have become more sophisticated than ever - which has forced companies to think outside of the box.

“The landscape of cyber threats is evolving so much so we have to focus on protecting our customers from that,” said Peter Oganesean, Hewlett Packard's managing director for the UAE and Middle East.

The threat can come from a variety sources, according to Mr Ogansean, including the office printer.

Printers can often have hundreds of access points for hackers, who can then bring a system to its knees by gaining control through a printer linked to the system, he said.

“There are different levels of threats, which is why we have different types of responses,” he said, referring to Hewlett Packard’s new built-in software, for printers, that identifies and neutralises viruses.

“The threats can come from anywhere in the world, it is a global problem, not just a regional one anymore.”

He said that is why it is important that all devices come equipped with the right software to neutralise cyber-attacks.

“It is not enough anymore to just equip computers to be cyber resilient, you have to make sure that you protect printers against cyber threats too,” he said.

“If you look at printers today, they are very much computers and are often connected to the network. It is easy for cyber criminals with advanced ability to access them.”