Leaders from Bahrain, Israel, the United Arab Emirates and the U.S. signed the Abraham Accords in September 2020.

Bipartisan group of Senators float plan to add cybersecurity to Abraham Accords

A bipartisan group of U.S. Senators introduced a bill on Wednesday seeking to forge deeper cybersecurity ties between the U.S., Israel, Morocco, the United Arab Emirates, and Bahrain.

Named the “Abraham Accords Cybersecurity Cooperation Act of 2023,” the bill would add cybersecurity cooperation to the landmark Middle East deal signed in 2020.

“Cybersecurity is a global problem that requires international cooperation and collaboration,” said Senator Cory Booker, who introduced the bill alongside U.S. Senators Jacky Rosen (D-NV), Joni Ernst (R-IA), James Lankford (R-OK), and Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY).

“This legislation will enhance cooperation between Abraham Accords countries by facilitating information sharing and coordinating responses to cyberattacks, strengthening our collective ability to combat these evolving threats.”

The bill would see the countries involved in the accords participate in information-sharing frameworks related to cybersecurity and provide technical assistance when responding to cybersecurity incidents. Participants would also conduct joint cybersecurity trainings and exercises.

Tensions with Iran’s government played a significant part in the bill’s creation, according to the Senators involved. The increased partnership between the countries is meant to help “defend against shared cyber threats from Iran and other hostile cyber actors, including those targeting critical infrastructure and ransomware attacks.”

Rosen said the bill would help strengthen the collective cybersecurity defenses “against shared threats” and that the accord is already “fostering an unprecedented level of security cooperation between the U.S., Israel, and our Arab partners.”

“The Iranian regime has persistently attacked the American homeland and our partners and allies seeking to degrade our cyber infrastructure and steal our secrets,” Ernst said.

Researchers said last fall that hackers connected to Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps are allegedly using multiple personas in phishing emails to target organizations and people with information on Israel and several Gulf States, the Abraham Accords, and nuclear arms control.

Lankford said Iran and other countries are targeting critical infrastructure and launching ransomware attacks, prompting the need for nations like Israel and the U.S. to offer their capabilities for mutual defense purposes.

The bill follows several other efforts by Congress to expand the Abraham Accords with more countries and deeper collaboration on a range of issues.

In February, U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) officials met with cybersecurity leaders from Israel, the UAE, Bahrain and Morocco in Israel to discuss the expansion of the Abraham Accords to include shared cybersecurity priorities.

The DHS work focused on network defense efforts and information sharing on threats, nation state targeting of critical infrastructure and ransomware.

“Expanding the already successful Abraham Accords into cybersecurity creates another layer to our ability to collaborate with Israel and our other Abraham Accords allies to address shared cybersecurity threats. Iran, in particular, is a destabilizing cyber actor, posing a significant threat to the United States, Israel, and our Arab partners,” Rosen and Lankford said earlier this year.

“With cyber threats becoming increasingly sophisticated, the United States must leverage our partners’ capabilities to enhance our homeland security. Advanced and widespread cybersecurity attacks remain a major threat to nations and private businesses in the U.S. and around the world. We will continue to push federal agencies to pursue initiatives that strengthen and expand the Accords within their realms of responsibility.”

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Jonathan Greig

Jonathan Greig is a Breaking News Reporter at Recorded Future News. Jonathan has worked across the globe as a journalist since 2014. Before moving back to New York City, he worked for news outlets in South Africa, Jordan and Cambodia. He previously covered cybersecurity at ZDNet and TechRepublic.