The United States and its Middle East and North African allies announced Tuesday that they would expand the Abraham Accords, a 2020 agreement to normalize diplomatic relations between Israel and some Arab countries, to include cybersecurity. Did.
According to The Washington Post, the expansion is still in progress and will include increased information sharing on cyberthreats and the possibility of adding tabletop exercises.
Rob Silvers, undersecretary for strategy, policy and planning at the Department of Homeland Security, told The Washington Post that the expansion builds on existing cyber cooperation between the United States, Israel and the United Arab Emirates. Bahrain and Morocco are also included, he said.
“We will come together as a group and look at how we can deepen our cyber defense efforts,” said Silvers. “Our nation faces common cyber challenges. Clearly, we all face cybercrime, ransomware, and more.”
This announcement is the latest cyber cooperation between the United States and the Middle East.
Last year, the U.S. Treasury Department and the Israeli Treasury Department announced a bilateral agreement to formalize and strengthen the cybersecurity partnership between the two countries.
In the agreement, the two countries committed to share information on cyber threats targeting the financial sector, train cybersecurity staff, and conduct cross-border cybersecurity exercises.
The Treasury Department’s bilateral deal follows President Biden’s visit to the Middle East in July, during which he promised to expand and strengthen cyber cooperation with Israel and Saudi Arabia. He said the move was likely a response to rising digital threats from Iran, a common rival among the three countries.
While still not on the level of Israel, Iran has proven capable of launching a range of cyberattacks ranging from website defacement and distributed denial-of-service attacks to ransomware and cyber espionage, experts say. said.
Last year, the FBI said it had thwarted a 2021 cyberattack aimed at disrupting the Boston Children’s Hospital network. FBI Director Christopher Wray has accused Iran-backed hackers of attempting the attack.
“Iran is a dangerous and destabilizing actor for the entire region,” Silvers told the Post. “We have seen attacks against targets in the United States as well as targets throughout the Middle East.”
Apart from Iran, Israel has one of the country’s leading cyber intelligence companies, the NSO Group, selling spyware tools to foreign governments, who use them to target dissidents, political rivals, journalists, It has also drawn criticism for allowing it to spy on human rights activists.
Backlash over NSO Group’s spyware tool, known as Pegasus, led the US Department of Commerce to blacklist the company in 2021.
Silvers said the Biden administration has condemned the illegal use of spyware.
“This administration consistently condemns the use of spyware and licensed spyware developers as violating human rights and freedom of expression, and is open to partners when they have concerns,” said Silver. Mr Zu said.
“That said, there is a long history of defense and security cooperation between the United States and our partners in the region, and it is important that we work together against cyber threats shared by critical infrastructure.” he added.