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Spy scandals force UAE to restructure cyber-security

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Successive spying scandals in the UAE in recent months have forced the ruling regime in Abu Dhabi to restructure “cybersecurity”.

The restructuring has had an impact on the private sector with which the UAE is cooperating for espionage purposes, in particular on Dark Mater, which has worked closely with the National Cyber ​​Security Authority.

Dark Matter’s work focuses on cybersecurity and the development of Security Operations Centers (SOCs), centers of information security groups and teams that monitor and analyze the security situation on an ongoing basis to detect, analyze and respond to cyber security incidents using technology solutions.

Dark Matter also produces intelligence reports on cyber attack threats.

Currently, the company is limited to cybersecurity, after authorities in Abu Dhabi suddenly seized control of the company following a report published by Reuters at the end of January last year on a cyber attack project run by the company in the UAE, called the project “Ravin.”

The report unveiled a UAE-created team of more than a dozen former US intelligence agents working to help the UAE spy on critics of human rights activists, journalists, political rivals, and governments of other countries, despite US norms that prevent former intelligence agents on behalf of foreign governments, particularly with regard to the diversion of secret US surveillance methods.

The exposure of Raven’s project has left its mark on Dark Mater’s internal structure. Since early 2019, a number of senior executives have left the company, led by its vice president for cyber services, Eddie Schwartz, as well as information executive Roger Sills.

As Dark Matter’s role diminished, another company, Pim Trail, emerged, replacing Dark Mater in overseeing the development of offensive tools for hacking Wi-Fi, GSM, 3G and other systems.

Pim Trail is headed by Hisham Fadhil, who previously worked for General Dynamics in military communications technology, and has previously headed the government contracts division of Elia Sat, as well as two years as head of special projects at Dark Matter.

Bill Trim has recruited a number of former Dark Matter employees to take advantage of their expertise, according to leaks from foreign agencies.

The UAE is the first Gulf state to establish a cyber offensive after the Arab Spring and the emergence of social media as an effective means of mobilizing.

In early 2012, Abu Dhabi announced the establishment of the National Cyber ​​Security Authority (NESA) – the UAE equivalent of the US National Security Agency (NSA)-in accordance with Federal Decree No. 3 of 2012.

Intelligence Online, a magazine specializing in intelligence, expressed the influence of the National Cyber ​​Security Authority, saying it had most of the arsenal of state cyber-attack and interception systems.

In September 2018, UAE agencies responsible for technical intelligence were completely reorganized, separating both offensive and defensive operations.

The National Cybersecurity Authority is divided into three separate entities, the largest and most offensive of which is the Signal Intelligence Service (SIA), which is headed by Rashid bin Ahmed Al Ghafari, an intelligence officer working for EliaSat, a satellite communications services company that oversees the launch. UAE satellites in the civil and military fields.

The smaller entities were devoted to cybersecurity.

The UAE’s ruling system relies on electronic battalions and state-of-the-art spying devices for UAE citizens, opponents and even friends.

For years, the crown prince of Abu Dhabi, the de facto ruler of the UAE, has now established one of the largest traditional and then cyber-espionage networks in the Internet age.

Cyber ​​espionage networks emanating from Abu Dhabi are chasing dissident citizens across the planet and snooping on political opponents, even if they are neighbors and friends in public.