Mobile phone hot spots warning
Manama, February 10, 2013
Mobile phone users could be putting themselves at risk from hackers by using wireless Internet connections, according to Bahrain Interior Ministry’s cybercrime unit.
They could be victims of identity theft or blackmail, as many leave their connections unprotected, our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News reported.
The cybercrime unit has come across several hot spots across the country, where there are "open" wireless connections.
"There are scores of open wireless connections from Manama to Riffa, through which people can use their mobile or personal computer to surf the web for free," said unit head First Lieutenant Mohammed Yousif Bu Ali.
"Those enticed to use the free Internet facility were giving easy access to hackers, who could use the information and blackmail the victim."
Bu Ali told the GDN it was important for web surfers to use the service from registered companies, firms or users.
"There are also coffee shops in some areas that are offering free Wi-Fi connection which is not right and could be used for wrong reasons. You could be sitting in your car and access the Internet using the open connection," he added.
He said another issue that posed a threat was the mushrooming of Internet cafes.
"Some of the cases we have dealt with show that the offenders use Internet cafes to hack accounts or send threatening e-mails," he explained.
"Some of the Internet cafes do not log in details of the customer such as smart card or any other information. They even do not have CCTV cameras installed that could help us in identifying the person."
He spoke of a case in 2009, when a man hopped between cafes to blackmail a couple. "Our department received a complaint that this person created a fake account and started sending threatening e-mails to a couple," he said.
The team finally tracked the man after securing CCTV footage from one of the Internet cafes.
"We continue to urge authorities to make it mandatory for all Internet cafes to ensure they register smart card details of their customers," added Bu Ali.
He also called for activists to launch national awareness campaigns to highlight the dangers of social media networks, particularly Twitter, which has become a venue for such attacks.
The GDN reported that last year the unit registered 223 cases ranging from hacking to cyber-fraud gangs offering bogus services - some of whom were caught and referred to the Public Prosecution.
Bu Ali had said the total number of violations, however, had dropped since 2011 because of increased awareness, but stressed it was not enough and more efforts were needed to combat cybercrime, including tougher legislation.
A draft law is currently being discussed in the parliament, which could impose a maximum fine of up to BD100,000 ($265,957.19) on hackers. – TradeArabia News Service