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The Interior Minister addresses the forum

Cyber leaks alert over sharing passwords

MANAMA, March 6, 2015

A new study has shown that 20 per cent of government employees share their passwords, risking leaks of ‘sensitive’ and ‘confidential’ information.

They could risk state security as they become easy targets for hackers, said Central Informatics Organisation (CIO) information security adviser Ahmed Jaber Al Dosseri.

The study was conducted by CIO officials, who surveyed more than 3,000 people working in government ministries and authorities, said a report in the Gulf Daily News (GDN), our sister publication.

"It covered more than 3,000 staff and we found that 80pc of the respondents did not share the passwords, however, 20pc said their colleagues knew about it," said Al Dosseri.

"Thirty-five per cent of the respondents also said they did not care about hackers taking control of their accounts or about data being stolen or in fact did not care about anything.

"We are talking about data from different departments, some of which are confidential."

He said some of the attacks were ‘state-sponsored’, while others were individuals operating within and outside Bahrain.

"Online threats are increasing, whether it's targeting Bahrain or globally," he explained.

"Some of the examples of the threats we faced included from hacktivists, disgruntled staff, those who wanted quick financial gains, espionage and also several state-sponsored attacks."

Al Dosseri spoke to the GDN yesterday on the sidelines of the Bahrain Information Security Forum 2015, which was held at the Officers Club in Gudaibiya, where CIO president Dr Mohammed Al Amer said cybercrime experts last year identified over one million malicious programmes and viruses targeting state institutions.

"State departments in Bahrain last year, on an average daily, exchanged three billion bytes of data that included audio, visual and other data," said Al Amer.

"With all the data exchanged we did face threats of electronic attacks and hacking attempts from inside and outside Bahrain.

"We found over one million malicious programmes and viruses that targeted government institutions last year, and hackers also targeted 10 government websites."

He said that the Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) was set up last year to protect government and semi-government institutions from cyber attacks and ensure confidentiality.

He added the government had also approved an action plan for 2015 - 2018 to tackle cybercrimes.

Experts from different countries participated in workshops during the forum to discuss best practices in the areas of protecting state secrets, countering cyber attacks and risk management.

A presentation was also conducted by Microsoft Gulf regional chief technology officer Cyril Voisin, who said it cost on average $3.5 million to tackle a data breach.

"In one study it was found that a hacker will stay in the network for at least eight months to steal key data and make changes in the system," he added.

The forum was held under the patronage of Interior Minister Shaikh Rashid bin Abdulla Al Khalifa, who warned of the dangers of e-crimes.

"These malicious programmes and viruses can have impact on society, and it is important to create awareness on this subject in educational institutes," he said.

Meanwhile, Al Dosseri revealed plans to launch an electronic wallet, which will be used to pay bills using a smart card.

He said the discussion phase of the project would be completed by the end of the year.

The GDN earlier reported that a new law on cybercrime came into effect last month under which an illegal access to an IT system or part of it carries a maximum of one-year jail sentence or a maximum fine of BD30,000 ($79,066), or both, while tapping carries a jail term or a maximum of BD100,000 fine, or both. - TradeArabia News Service




Tags: cyber | Alert | Password |

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