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Tech June 1, 2023

UAE: Scammers more interested in personal data than bank details

Writen by Rizwan Ansari

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UAE: Scammers more interested in personal data than bank details

For UAE consumers, it is not the bank data, but the disclosure of their personal data shared online that puts them at a greater risk when it comes to fraudsters and scammers.

Cybersecurity experts warn that individual identities are sold at a much higher cost than bank card details in the black market by scammers; therefore, stealing personal and individuals identities is a bigger area of interest for fraudsters.

Due to the boom in online shopping, the problem of identity leaks is becoming very significant for residents.

Alexander Lyamin, founder of Qrator Labs, said compared to larger markets like the US and Europe, the number of DDoS attacks in the UAE is so far minimal.

“But given the steady trend towards digitalisation and the rich booming economy, it’s only a matter of time before attackers come to commercialise DDoS attacks in this market,” he said.

He said the main target for fraudsters in today’s world is not bank card data, as it used to be, but rather users’ personal data.

“The bank cards’ security mechanisms have long been perfected and, generally, [this] protection is not difficult to establish. User personal data [is] a different story. Firstly, it is a huge volume of data, and secondly, a lot of the data is disclosed online by users themselves, by no means always complying with the essential security rules,” he said.

Dr Mohamed Hamad Al Kuwaiti, head of the Cyber Security Council of the UAE Government, last month also warned UAE residents not to use the same passwords at home and in offices, as they make them more vulnerable to cyberattacks.

“People use personal devices to check their emails and messages. The passwords used in those personal devices are used in work devices as well, which can make them vulnerable to attacks. This really needs to change,” Al Kuwaiti said at Intersec 2023.

Once a scammer has obtained a UAE resident’s personal data, they can use various techniques to steal the money – from social engineering to the use of copied documents.

“As a result, Individual identities called ‘fullz’ are worth times more than card data on the black market,” said Alexander Lyamin.

How to protect yourself?

Qrator Labs’ founder added that Covid-19 has made a significant impact on the digital hygiene of the average person, but there is still room for improvement.

He suggested that there are two ways to protect UAE consumers’ data.

“The first one is improving public awareness towards digital transactions, and the second is organising data protection at the government and enterprise levels. And the second point implies a whole range of measures: ensuring e-government security, active implementation of biometrics and two-factor authentication, as well as preventive control of data leaks using the best global practices in this sphere,” he said.

Lyamin added that consumers should know their networks and services well and also deploy cyber defences permanently – always-on.


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