The UAE Banks Federation (UBF), a professional body representing 49 member banks operating in the UAE, has announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at facilitating cyber threat information sharing among banks to reduce cyber risks and mitigate threats to banks and their customers.

The Cyber Threat Intelligence Initiative 2017 was launched after the UBF’s CEOs Advisory Council approved in March a proposal calling for the creation of a cyber intelligence sharing platform. The initiative will allow banks to better identify, protect, detect and respond to cyber-attacks.

“Providing a robust platform for collection and sharing of cyber threat intelligence will allow banks to answer the ‘who, what, where, when, why, and how’ questions needed for immediate decisions and actions required,” said Abdul Aziz Al Ghurair, Chairman of UBF.

The intelligence sharing platform will enable member banks to seamlessly collect, analyse and share data on cyber threats, while allowing for anonymous reporting and alert management. This will allow banks to gain a comprehensive understanding of the cyber threat landscape and be better prepared to respond to emerging threats.

“By seamlessly sharing business-critical information with each other, banks will be able to prevent and reduce sensitive data exposure and make better, more informed decisions around risk management and the investment needed for their cyber security strategies,” Al Ghurair said.

The intelligence sharing platform will provide member banks with secure and highly sophisticated methods of sharing cyber threat indicators such as hackers scanning for open ports or brute-force scan attacks.

It will also alert banks to techniques aimed at bypassing security controls or exploitation of a security vulnerability — such as through the use of Heartbleed or Shellshock bugs or via DNS tunnelling or domain fronting — while providing them with all relevant details of software security vulnerabilities including how the vulnerability was discovered and what would be its potential impact.

Bankers say such collaboration will allow the banking industry to become more cyber resilient, ultimately providing greater transaction security to banking customers in the country.

The intelligence sharing platform will allow banks to be more aware of recent technics and development used by attackers, thereby significantly improving their cyber-security capabilities and empowering them to effectively confront new and evolving threats.

“Cyber criminals are getting more organised and sophisticated, rendering traditional approaches insufficient in effectively addressing the challenges posed by an evolving threat environment. This makes it imperative that banks come together to create a common platform whereby they can collect and share threat information which will help increase their security and protect their business and operational environments,” Al Ghurair said.