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Think before you click: Steer clear of bogus cryptos, experts warn UAE residents

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com Filed on May 29, 2021 | Last updated on May 29, 2021 at 07.02 am

(Reuters file)

Dubai officials on Thursday shot down speculation on a virtual asset, so-called ‘Dubai Coin’.


How do you protect yourself from cyberscams? Stay vigilant and, as the modern adage says, think before you click. Always.

Dubai officials on Thursday shot down speculation on a virtual asset, so-called ‘Dubai Coin’, claiming to be the emirate’s official cryptocurrency, after a purported Press release on its launch made the rounds on Wednesday, triggering a frenzy among market players and crypto enthusiasts.

The mere fact that ‘Dubai’ was attached to the name of this ‘asset’ was enough to generate significant investment interest. However, as with all cybercrime activity, the allure of a popular term is always used as a bait to reel in potential victims.

Industry leaders and Dubai residents on Friday reacted to the developments, expressing exasperation and astonishment at the rapid escalation of such a fraudulent scheme.

The news exploded online while the global AIBC UAE summit was being held in Dubai. A number of people started posting and sharing it online with news being picked up by social media and by various websites, big-name media outlets included.

Khaleej Times had brought it to the notice of authorities in Dubai immediately as investors started making queries on how to acquire the purported crypto. Markets were intrigued by the ‘timely’ launch of Dubai Coin; the scammers timed it perfect.

Arshad Khan, CEO of Arabian Bourse, pointed out that it is important for investors to do full due diligence before investing their money into such offerings.

“Some basic checks that anyone can do is check the background of the company, their contact details, promoters and management team. Most important check is to find if the regulatory approval has been taken. Underlying use case and business model behind the launch of such coins should be studied thoroughly,” he added.

Khan says that verifying contact details by calling the numbers and cross-checking management and promoter profiles on social media platforms like LinkedIn can help investors finding the facts.

Arshad Khan, CEO of Arabian Bourse, pointed out that it is important for investors to do full due diligence before investing their money into such offerings.

“Some basic checks that anyone can do is check the background of the company, their contact details, promoters and management team. Most important check is to find if the regulatory approval has been taken. Underlying use case and business model behind the launch of such coins should be studied thoroughly,” he added.

Khan says that verifying contact details by calling the numbers and cross-checking management and promoter profiles on social media platforms like LinkedIn can help investors finding the facts.

Cryptocurrencies have often been misused in similar ways; creating the right awareness for the public at large is required so that such attempts can be nipped in the bud.

The Dubai Electronic Security Centre announced on late Thursday night that Dubai Coin has not been approved by any official entity and that the website promoting the coin is an unlicensed site, which aims to phish e-mail information, passwords and phone numbers of people through an electronic form.

The Dubai Media Office tweeted that “Dubai Coin cryptocurrency was never approved by any official authority. The website promoting the coin is an elaborate phishing campaign that is designed to steal personal information from its visitors.”

Phishing is when a cybercriminal sends a digital message to trick a user into doing something insecure, like handing over personal information. Phishing scammers mainly use e-mail, because it’s easy to mock up realistic-looking messages, but they use other platforms too.

“Phishing attacks can be sophisticated and tailored to the recipient, making them harder to spot just by looking for obvious mistakes in language, grammar or factual information,” Harish Chib, vice-president for the Middle East and Africa at Sophos, said.

“To avoid falling victim to phishing, double-check whether the message came from the sender it claims to come from, and remember the simple adage: ‘If in doubt, don’t give it out’.”

Phishing attacks and scams are usually financially motivated and during one of these scams, cybercriminals pose as a trusted contact to steal data like login details, account numbers and credit card information. These have become diverse, as cyberattacks have become more sophisticated and creative with its techniques. Spear-phishing, whaling, clone phishing, vishing and e-mail compromise are the most common methods of phishing attacks or scams. What unites these attacks is their common purpose: Identity theft or transferring malware.

“In today’s environment, individuals must assume that every e-mail with an urgent request to disclose financial or personal information is a phishing scam. Often grammar, spelling and even formatting of e-mails and websites can be red flags. One of the best ways to prevent being a victim is to simply check and verify the “From” address of the e-mail, or the URL of websites and their security certificates,” Alain Penel, regional vice-president for the Middle East at Fortinet, said.

“While caution and awareness is the first step to being safe online, individuals must use an effective spam filter and firewall on their devices to block malicious websites from opening and downloading attachments,” he added.

sandhya@khaleejtimes.com

author

Sandhya D'Mello

Journalist. Period. My interests are Economics, Finance and Information Technology. Prior to joining Khaleej Times, I have worked with some leading publications in India, including the Economic Times.





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