In an effort to curb cyber attacks that might increase during the New year and holiday season, the UAE Cybersecurity Council has warned both public and private companies and individuals to be vigilant in their online transactions.
The council also pointed out the importance of setting up a proper cyber defense system and having updated information about the different kinds of cyber threats/attacks. After the advent of Covid-19, digital transactions have increased globally and this has led to an increase in cyber crimes too.
The UAE Cybersecurity Council has issued a warning to all public and private institutions, as well as individuals
It is easier than ever to find a hacking tool and these are more user-friendly too so that almost anyone with an above-average knowledge of computers can learn it fast.
The cybersecurity council expects individuals and companies to cooperate with the concerned authorities by sharing information that aids in the nabbing of the perpetrators.
In July, Sharjah Police launched a campaign against cyber crimes as there was a sharp increase in cases. The Police said that cybercriminals have become more clever and sophisticated as they are making use of famous brands and official institutions to commit online frauds and other digital crimes.
Comparitech, a UK-based technology comparison website reported that the average cost of cybercrimes in the UAE came up to around $746 million per year. Between 2018-20, around 166,667 victims of cyber crimes were recorded by UAE officials.
In 2021, authorities were bombarded with a lot of cybercrime cases where the offenders used fraudulent methods like fake delivery systems and Whatsapp scams to embezzle cash from individuals and companies.
The campaign called ‘Be Aware: Stop, Think, Protect’ was launched as the Sharjah Police observed that there was a seventy percent increase in cyber crimes in the last two years. As part of the campaign, the officials would visit the local residents of Al Zahia and give them important tips on how they can safeguard themselves from these cyber attacks.
The police will also share these on social media platforms to reach a wider online audience. The campaign will also help people how to identify certain techniques used by online fraudsters for getting their private information.
Phishing is the most commonly used method where the cybercriminal would send a web link through email, WhatsApp, or other messaging applications to a large group of people. When the individual clicks the link, it will run a certain script or install a virus in the computer or mobile phone of the individual that will give access to information like online banking passwords, social media passwords, etc to the offender.
Ransomware is also another type of cyber attack where your system gets blocked by a virus or a malicious script and the criminal will ask for money to unlock your computer. These instances of Phishing and ransomware have been on the rise during and after the covid-19 pandemic.
In a step to curb the ongoing cyber crimes in the UAE, the Dubai Police has started an E-crime portal on their website. Using this portal, an individual can register a cybercrime that happened to them or anyone else at the earliest.
In the portal, the Dubai Police urges people to fill in the maximum relevant details as this can help them in the investigation.
The service can be also availed using the Dubai Police mobile app and in Smart Police Stations (SPS). The Dubai public can also reach them at 901 or by emailing them at dubaipolice.gov.ae.
At the beginning of this year, the Abu Dhabi Police said that they had returned around Dh18 million to the people who had been victims of phone scams and other online frauds.
Kaspersky, a computer security analyst company reported that in 2020, during the height of the Covid-19 pandemic, it recorded more than 600,000 phishing attacks.
Staff Sgt. Nouf Alharmoodi, an information technology expert, at Sharjah Police advised people to always double-check the URLs that they receive on their phone or computer as these online fraudsters can cleverly disguise them as credible websites just by changing one letter. The hackers use multiple fake platforms that disguise themselves as major companies like Emirates Post, Aramex, Snapchat, etc.
Oftentimes when people search on Google for Mcdonald’s or other shops for ordering meals, the results would show fake websites by the same name. So it is always important to type the whole URL of the websites that you want to visit.
If, by any chance, you end up clicking a URL of suspicious content and you get a message of money withdrawn from your account then immediately call up the bank authorities and block your account. Alharmoodi said that the earlier we become aware of the scammer, there is a high chance the crime can be stopped. Sharjah Police can be contacted through the 24-hour hotline at 065943228 or WhatsApp at 0559992158 or by email at [email protected]
Content writer and social science researcher with 5 plus years of experience in research. He has published academic and non-academic articles on several online platforms covering wide-ranging subjects. He is also a tech enthusiast, bibliophile, and an avid fan of video games.