The mandate, however ,does not stop with its focus on the UAE. aeCERT is forming alliances with regional bodies within the GCC and key global organisations including FIRST in a concerted bid to play the collaborative game. In an exclusive interview with Network World Middle East, Eng. Tariq Al Hawi, aeCERT Director spoke to Kavitha Rajasekhar on how the team is working with the industry and the community.
NWME: aeCERT has been actively talking about raising security awareness levels with the general public. Can you talk about how you are integrating the corporate sector in your campaign?
Al Hawi: The whole mandate for the TRA when it first started looking at information security was to enable a credible and effective way to track and disseminate information on security related issues and enable the community and the industry to collaborate for collective benefit. With a fast changing threat landscape, the solution was to set up aeCERT as the national body to monitor information security both at a national and regional level. Our focus is set on reaching out to both general public as well as organisations. The message, of course, will differ for both segments. For the public, the idea is to raise general awareness through mass media. For the corporate sector, however, we expect to play a major role by offering a number of services that they can benefit from. aeCERT is set on the path to become a major regional co-ordination centre for information security, advisory and response.
NWME: Talking about services, can you please tell us what they would be and how organisations can liaise with your teams to benefit from them?
Al Hawi: The most important part of our offering is that all services come free of charge to organisations and the public. We currently have 28 services on offer that fall under four areas – auditing, consulting, honeypot deployments and incident monitoring. The way we structure the offering is by actually segmenting companies into four tiers based on their structure and assessing what impact a failure of their service would have on the country or the ecosystem they play in. Tier 1 support is offered for companies that fall under the critical national infrastructure category and these typically tend to be government type or utility service providers. Tier 2 looks at the sectors like banking, Tier 3 would be large holding companies or private sector organisations and Tier 4 is the general public that could sign up for services or support. The criterion is to elevate the security status in the country.
NWME: In terms of your operations, what are the key areas that the teams will be working on?
Al Hawi: On the operations front we have two areas. Alert, advisory and response forms one part of it and research & analysis for gathering information security intelligence is the second aspect. Both these aspects will enhance our efforts on the following:
– Enhancing the Cyber Law
– Building awareness both at the public and corporate level
– Enabling stronger SCADA systems assessment
– Phishing monitoring
NWME: How can security technology vendors collaborate with aeCERT?
Al Hawi: Security vendors are a very important part of the ecosystem and we are currently working with most of the leading players. The idea is to leverage our state-of-the art lab to set up Proof of Concept (PoC) projects in order to test their products, technology or a possible new service. aeCERT currently has 16 dedicated security professionals and increasing this pool is certainly the plan for 2010.
NWME: On a regional and global level what will your collaborative efforts focus on?
Al Hawi: Our vision and mandate for collaboration is unique. What we want to do is to leverage our strength and compliment it at the same time by partnering with other similar regional and global bodies. Each CERT in the GCC for example has key areas of focus that can enhance and further our mandate. In Saudi for example, the CERT body is mainly focused on monitoring and response, while the Qatar CERT is looking closely at generating security intelligence. aeCERT sees itself becoming a major co-ordination hub for security in the GCC. On a global level, we have set out to form alliances with leading bodies. So far we have signed alliances with organisations line IMPACT (International Multilateral Partnership against Cyber Threats Alliance, JPCERTCC (Japan Computer Emergency Response Team Corpodination Centre, APWG (Anti Phishing Working Group and the Organisation of Islamic Countries Services.