The E-SAFE team launched the Youth Online Safety Campaign with the hashtag, ‘#SafeUpWhatsApp’, informing teens how they can stay safe on social media
It takes intruders just 30 seconds to gain access into a smartphone’s instant messaging services such as WhatsApp, the UAE-based non-profit online safety organisation, Emirates Safer Internet Society (E-SAFE) has warned.
E-SAFE Emirati youth champion, Hussain Adel Al Hashmi, a student of Al Ittihad National Private School, provided a live demo during a Press conference held in Dubai on Sunday on how a user could be tricked by intruders to gain access to their instant messaging apps.
The E-SAFE team launched the Youth Online Safety Campaign with the hashtag, ‘#SafeUpWhatsApp’, informing teens how they can stay safe on social media.
The team said a survey conducted by 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.
The Dubai Police’s Al Ameen Service 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 to give in to his blackmail.
In a new dipstick survey undertaken by E-SAFE in the region to determine the level of security practised by WhatsApp users, 42 per cent of respondents said they use the app ‘extensively’, while over 50 per cent use the app ‘moderately’.
The survey also found that 88 per cent of WhatsApp users would allow immediate family members to access their phone unattended, while 22 per cent said they allow friends to go through their phone.
Also, 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 devices.
Following the discovery of the potential misuse of the app’s web feature, E-SAFE has reached out to WhatsApp Inc. to urge it to introduce a safety notification feature that informs users whenever their WhatsApp account is accessed from a web device.