Cybercrime warning for women
Manama, October 21, 2012
Women are being urged to do more to protect themselves from online sexual predators using social media networks to seduce them into sharing private pictures.
Some victims, who include children, are also being blackmailed into handing over cash to prevent them from being circulated on the internet, said Bahrain head of Interior Ministry's cybercrime unit First Lieutenant Mohammed Yousif Bu Ali.
He said jilted boyfriends were often responsible as well as men who posed as women in online chatrooms.
Lt Bu Ali said cybercrime had gone up 10-fold since the unit was set up in 2006 with more than 200 cases being reported every year since 2010.
Women make up around 80 per cent of the complaints it receives.
Social media networks, particularly Twitter, has become a venue for attacks against them, said Lt Bu Ali.
"Nearly 85 per cent of cases we receive involve men posting pictures of young women on Twitter and other social media," he told our sister newspaper, the Gulf Daily News.
"Chat rooms such as MSN used to be the major source of such crimes but now it is Facebook and even YouTube, where videos are leaked online."
Some families have reportedly been forced to pay out significant amounts of money to prevent compromising pictures or videos of their loved ones being distributed online.
"There was a case of a girl logging into a chat room, thinking she was speaking to another girl," said Lt Bu Ali.
"It turned out it was a boy posing as a girl.”
"The girl naively played along with the request to appear on video chat in her nightwear.”
"Meanwhile, the boy was recording her the entire time.”
"He later asked her to pay up some money or risk having the video leaked online."
Lt Bu Ali attended a Cybercrime and Emergency Response conference at the Sheraton Hotel last week, which touched on how to combat the problem.
Organised by Bahrain cyber security company Elite Technologies Middle East, the one-day event brought together forensic experts from around the world to discuss key issues facing the industry.
Lt Bu Ali revealed most of the men who tried to blackmail women were aged between 16 and 23.
"We have this problem with many schools in Bahrain, where pictures of girls find their way online because they are shared through smartphones," he said.
"Always ensure you have proper and updated antivirus software.”
"Never accept any files from anybody you do not know.”
"It could be a word document or a picture, but it could contain malware that can steal private information."
Lt Bu Ali also advised young people using smartphones to be more sensible when they share pictures, texts, e-mails and videos. – TradeArabia News Service