The UAE is the world’s eighth most targeted country by cyber attacks, attracting 5 per cent of the total attacks staged globally, according to a report published by US security firm Symantec.

Taking on this challenge underpins the initiative between Dubai-based Smartworld and security company The Kernel to form a training centre in Dubai that specialises in cyber security training for nationals.

The centre will be offering courses ranging from risk assessment to unified threat management, among others.

Broadly the initiative seeks to address a gap in the marketplace as the GCC region, particularly Dubai, have started their large-scale digitisation and smart city projects, according to Saeed al-Dhaheri, Smartworld chairman.

The high visibility of the UAE in terms of adopting the world’s latest technologies will require a stronger stance against tremendous external threats, Al-Dhaheri said.

The cyber security training centre was also borne out of Smartworld’s CIO Majlis, whose members meet once every month to discuss IT and security issues in the region. “The growing threat of cyber attacks and the lack of skills to combat and address such threats always figure among the most recurrent concerns of the region’s CIOs,” Abdulqader Ali, Smartworld CEO, said during a press conference held at Smartworld’s headquarters in the Dubai Logistics City on 22 August.

Apart from offering security training courses starting in December, the Cyber Security Centre will also provide a tool to monitor cyber security threats round-the-clock. “The centre will be catering to the growing need for protection and threat monitoring…while developing local talent in the area of cyber security along with identifying and protecting organisations against external threats,” said Saif al-Ketbi, chief information officer (CIO) at Abu Dhabi Airports Company (Adac) and adviser to the project.

Al-Ketbi also said the centre will be seeking accreditation from the UAE’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research soon.