#SafeUpWhatsApp.E-SAE Society warns residents about intruders gaining access to popular messaging ap

Press Release (ePRNews.com) - ABU DHABI, UAE - Aug 01, 2016 - Dubai – 31 July 2016

Crowne Plaza Dubai:

UAE-based Non-Profit online safety organisation, Emirates Safer Internet Society (E-SAFE) said that intruders take only 30 seconds to gain access into a smartphone’s messaging services such as WhatsApp, a popular texting platform used by 1b people worldwide. In a press conference held at Crowne Plaza Dubai, the E-SAFE team launched an informative campaign to safeguard people from social engineering by demonstrating the possible ways in which this could be done.

A survey conducted by the Kaspersky Lab with B2B International in 2015 showed that despite the UAE’s relatively small population, it is the second most attacked country online in the Middle East.

According to a recent report, Dubai Police’s Al Ameen Service alone received nearly 300 calls from blackmail victims between 2013 and 2014. Various cases of trauma and attempted suicides have been reported by victims of online sextortions and blackmailing. In a noteworthy case from a neighbouring country, a man blackmailed 60 children and published 45 indecent photos of them online when they refused his blackmail; many of the children became suicidal or aggressive in the aftermath.

A new dipstick survey undertaken by E-SAFE society in the region to determine the level of security practiced by WhatsApp users, 42 per cent of respondents said they use the app ‘extensively’ while more than 50 per cent said they use App ‘moderately’.

The survey also found 88 per cent of WhatsApp users would allow immediate family to access their phone unattended, while 22 per cent said they allow friends to go through their phone. Meanwhile, 70 per cent of the participants said they never log out of WhatsApp Web – an option which allows individuals access to their WhatsApp account from a PC or other web devices.

E-SAFE Emirati youth champion, Hussain Adel Al Hashmi, student of Al Ittihad National Pvt. School, provided a live-demo to the Press on how a user could be tricked by intruders to gain access to their Instant Messaging App.

The Press Conference also premiered a short awareness film produced by E-SAFE on safe Social Media usage for teens. The video film with an all-UAE cast of school and college children was shot at Higher Colleges of Technology premises in Abu Dhabi and was created by SW Films, Dubai as part of their CSR initiative.

Colonel Dr. Ibrahim Al Dabal, General Coordinator of AQDAR – Khalifa Student Empowerment Program kicked off the Youth Online Safety Campaign with the Hashtag, “#SafeUpWhatsApp”, informing teens how they can stay safe on Social Media. Under the patronage of Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, AQDAR seeks to unify national efforts, in order to empower students to effectively address present and future challenges. The project is also supported by UAE Telecom Regulatory Authority (TRA), Etisalat and the
Continental Group.

Following the discovery of the potential misuse of the App’s Web feature, E-SAFE Society has also reached out to WhatsApp Inc. to urge its makers to introduce a safety notification feature that informs users whenever their WhatsApp account is accessed from any
web device.

Earlier this year, E-SAFE Society’s Board of Directors appointed Dr. Hamed Alneyadi as the new CEO of the organisation, who took over the position previously held by Mohammed Mustafa Saidalavi, the founder and now Chief Operating Officer of the Society.

“Dr. Hamed with his proven track record in the knowledge sector, will bring an empowering Emirati leadership to our Executive team and will help us garner vital Governmental collaboration in connecting our strategic programmes to the UAE Government’s vision of making the federal vision of UAE an e-safe country by 2021,” Mohammed Mustafa said.

“We continue to work closely with government entities in preventing online crimes against children and are thankful to all the officials for their undying support in bringing the best practices from around the world to the UAE in order to protect vulnerable children and the society in general”, the new CEO, Dr. Hamed Alneyadi stated.

Dr Abdullah Al Meyhas, chairman of the E-SAFE Society said, “E-SAFE has an impressive spectrum of multi-targeted and scientifically designed proactive programmes in the pipeline – both for immediate action, incremental and sustainable future action. These include the National Awareness Roadshow, Corporate Parental Education, Capacity upgrade of psychosocial professionals, internationally recognised studies on Child online issues from the region and workshops aiding ICT Industries to develop child-friendly products, all to be seen in the coming months.

About Emirates Safer Internet Society:

E-SAFE is a UAE non-profit organisation, officially licensed by UAE Ministry of Community Development, under ministerial decree No. 915 of 2015. E-SAFE strives to be a Centre of Excellence, for empowering the society to use internet responsibly and to protect children from online risks by educating and raising awareness, building capacity, assuming an observatory and advisory role and collaborating with multi-stakeholders to contribute to the nation’s prosperity.

Source : Emirates Safer Internet Society

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