UAE has turned out to be the latest hotspot for cyber crime. Residents high and low are being bombarded with junk e mails, hoaxes, spoofs, phishing etc. In recent years, the number of incidents in the country have become more prolific with the latest being an attack on the website of a leading Arabic newspaper.
Although cyber crimes in the UAE carry a maximum penalty of 10 years in prison and a fine of Dhs 200,000, many become victims out of ignorance and greed. More than half of the residents or 53 per cent browse the Internet regularly, according to The World Fact Book of the Central Intelligence Agency. And in Internet penetration, UAE tops the list of nations and territories in Middle East
Meanwhile, the number of Internet users in the UAE has also been growing rapidly, as per the country's recently released World Trade Organization (WTO), Trade Policy Review. Since 2000, the use of Internet in offices has skyrocketed to 240 per cent, while private users have increased to 95 per cent.
Other top countries include Kuwait, where one-fourth of residents use the Internet often, ranks third, followed by Bahrain, where 22 per cent go online on a regular basis, and Qatar, where almost 20 per cent connect to the World Wide Web habitually.
“I nearly spend half an hour clearing my inbox, only to see 2-3 mails which are worthwhile. I wish the authorities would do something about these spam mails as at times it brings deadly viruses which causes the computers to crash,” said Sameer M, who works as a manager in a hardware store.
Although Internet has added a new dimension to UAE, it has also opened up prospects for criminals to prey on the public. People are getting messages offering them what they might consider as an once-in-a-lifetime chance to get rich overnight whether through legal or illegal means.
Some are invited to be party to transferring millions of dollars in illegal money to their own accounts and get a handsome share. Others are told they have won legitimate lotteries running into hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are many variations of the offer, but the end result is the same. Many cannot believe themselves and jump on the bandwagon that goes nowhere but loss of own money and perhaps financial disaster for those who get carried away with dreams of realizing dreams of wealth and power.
And many of them fall for this get rich overnight scheme, without even enquiring its source. By the time they realize that cash is being taken from them instead of being given to them and start asking questions, it is too late for anything but to accept the loss and shut up.
“Every day I get plenty of mails referring to winning lotteries, people asking for help, offers for things that I don't want. Etc. and most of them goes to the trash,” said Juno V, who works as a senior accountant in a British firm.
The rise of social networking websites - Bebo, Facebook, MySpace and the like, also provide ample choices for fraudsters to gain information. Without a second thought, most of us are willing to fill in personal details like salary range, age, mother's maiden name, date of birth, place of birth .etc in such sites. Most online people seem to be more willing to disclose this type of information, as they don't want to seem ignorant.
But a little caution can go a long way in preventing such mishaps. Here are a few steps with which you can avoid these scamsters:
1) Do check the source of the e mail. If you don't know the recipient, it's best not to open and investigate. Just move it to the trash.
2) Those who genuinely need help do not approach strangers for it.
3) Be careful when you open unknown web pages as it can infect your system with a bot or other malware.
4) If you are unaware of the mail's contents, do some snooping around. Some websites, such as snopes.com, even keep lists of common email scams.
5) E mails which asks you to divulge personal information should be handled with care. If you are approached by a stranger for such info, the best option is to decline.
6) Finally, what to do with such emails? If in doubt, delete them.
Source: Go Dubai