The failed attempt to hack the accounts of some bank clients recently through the use of credit cards aroused fears among some people.
They are afraid of the occurrence of hacking using the telephone, as some unscrupulous people take advantage of bank clients’ lack of banking culture and try to reach credit and bank card numbers. However, they failed to push through bogus sales operations using these clients’ names. This failure was due to the strong protection system that banks in the Kingdom enjoy.
There is another method, which is also carried out through the telephone whereby the client is informed that he/she has won a big cash prize and has to provide his/her personal data to these people so that they can send him/her the amount. These attempts resulted in the appearance of a pattern of innovated economic crimes, like “credit card crimes” or “deception through the Internet,” especially with the spread of “piracy programs” that enable hackers to break through a computer’s defenses and steal the client’s data. This necessitates for bank managements to disseminate the culture of “electronic security,” increase information campaigns and stress on clients not to disclose secret numbers or passwords to any party or person. Additionally, clients should report to the authorities concerned any suspicious telephone calls or operations, according to Al-Riyadh.
The newspaper discussed with specialists the importance of enlightening the citizens on hackers.
At the outset, Dr. Ibrahim Muhammad Al-Zabn, Professor of Criminal Sociology and a specialist in economic crimes, said the age of information revolution resulted in the appearance of complicated operations some of which were linked with stances and circumstances that contributed in spreading them. Not only this, but they became an obsession for individuals in the society, as many strove to benefit from these technologies in different fields whether in e-commerce or through the use of programs or machines for banking services to facilitate their various daily transactions and dealings.
He added that because some beneficiaries from banking services lack awareness, criminals have succeeded in stealing their personal data on their bank accounts.
Hackers or piracy programs have spread, hence facilitating breaking through computer defenses and stealing information. He said the objective in most cases is to reach the client’s bank accounts.
Dr. Al-Zabn said the harms are due to illegal operations, which are considered to be a breach of the privacy of people’s information and using them in unlawful acts. At the institutional level, this causes the bank to not only lose clients, but to lose money as well. In the society, these illegal financial activities have a negative impact on the local economy. In addition, the growth of these operations will lead to people keeping away from using electronic technologies provided by banks. As a result, they revert to traditional methods in financial and banking dealings.
He said banks’ inability to protect clients is due to the recentness of this conduct, its various methods and weak resistance by victims, who in most cases lack the means for confrontation, especially when they are not well-informed on these deceptive methods.
Banks and the public
Dr. Al-Rabee’ Al-Shareef, journalist researcher in information technology, said the reason for the spread of this conduct is the weak communication between the bank and the public. He said when a person goes to a bank to open an account, he has to fill and sign innumerable forms, after which he finds himself before so many commitments all of which are in the interest of the bank.
He said the means for protection of a client’s data are sufficient in financial institutions including banks, but there are rights with banks who must fulfill in creating awareness among bank clients. Al-Shareef said if the public is not enlightened sufficiently, then the problem will continue. He added that it is regrettable that well-known figures in the society have fallen victim to such operations and have lost large amounts.
Al-Shareef said the deception starts with sending e-mails to clients urging them to respond quickly so as to update their (bank) data. From here, the sender starts breaking through the defenses by asking for preliminary information followed by the password. The client might hesitate, but he has fears his bank account might be closed, so he gives his password. This deception can also occur through telephone calls until the fraudster gets the password for operations. Then, it becomes easy to enter the client’s account. The client does not at all suspect that he is being duped through a criminal act. He tries to respond quickly for fear his bank account might be frozen.
Al-Shareef asked: “Where is the role of public relations departments, among whose functions is to warn the public on such breaches?” He called on banks to hold workshops for its clients who are not highly educated so as to explain how such deception takes place and to underscore the necessity to dial a number the bank allocates for urgent reports. This number ought to be announced to the public.
He said the means for breaking through the bank protection systems are now available for the information “piracy mafia” and through the banks themselves through laxity by some bank employees. At the same time, it is impossible to rule out dishonesty on the part of some employees, he said.
Engineer Ahmad Al-Bahouth, consultant in electronic services at the Ministry of Interior, said the rights of the citizen and expatriate are protected through enacting the regulations for protecting these rights. Also, the anti-cyber crimes regulation has specified the crimes and penalties for each crime. He said the rapid development in the world of electronic security necessitates updating the regulations periodically.
Al-Bahouth said he recently read a study, which estimated the loss of local banks during the past four years at over $1 billion due to cyber crimes. The study also showed that the GCC countries lose over $700 million annually due to the same reason.
He underscored the necessity to disseminate the culture of electronic security and called on all financial authorities to increase their campaigns in this regard by training their clients on secure electronic operations. Al-Bahouth said it must be reaffirmed to clients that they must not disclose their passwords to any person or party. Also, they must report to the official authorities concerned any suspicious telephone calls or operations. — SG