UAE Hit With Cyberattacks in Response to Ties With Israel, Official Says

'The normalization with Israel really opened a whole [array of] attacks from activists against the UAE'

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FILE PHOTO: A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration file picture
FILE PHOTO: A man types on a computer keyboard in Warsaw in this February 28, 2013 illustration pictureCredit: Kacper Pempel/Reuters

The United Arab Emirates was the target of cyberattacks after establishing formal ties with Israel, the Gulf Arab state's cybersecurity head said on Sunday.

The UAE in August broke with decades of Arab policy when it agreed to forge ties with Israel in a move that angered Palestinians and some Muslim states and communities. Bahrain and Sudan have followed suit.

"Our relationship, for example, with the normalization with Israel really opened [up] a whole [array of] huge attacks from some other activists against the UAE," Mohamed Hamad al-Kuwaiti said during an onstage interview at a conference in Dubai.

Kuwaiti said the financial sector was targeted but did not elaborate. He did not say if any of the attacks were sucessful or provide details on who the perpetrators were.

He also told the conference that the number of cyber attacks in the UAE increased sharply after the start of the coronavirus pandemic. Kuwaiti said traditionally many attacks in the region originate from Iran, without specifying who is behind them.

Iran has also said that it has been a victim of hacking, with oil facilities being targeted this October. At the time, Iran said it was on high alert for online assaults, which it has blamed in the past on the United States and other foreign states, including Israel.

U.S. officials said in October 2019 that the United States had carried out a cyber attack on Iran after drone strikes on Saudi oil facilities, which Washington and Riyadh blamed on Tehran. Iran denied involvement in the attacks, which were claimed by Yemen's Iran-aligned Houthi movement.

The United States and other Western powers have also accused Iran of trying to disrupt and break into their networks.

In May, a cyber attack on computers at Iran's Shahid Rajaee port caused massive backups on waterways and roads leading to the facility. The Washington Post reported that Israel was behind the attack, which came after Israeli water installations were reportedly hit by a cyber attack near the end of April.

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