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Digital life council in UAE can help kids fight cyberbullies: Expert

Filed on February 3, 2020 | Last updated on February 3, 2020 at 09.15 pm
Digital life council, UAE, help, kids, fight, cyberbullies, Expert,

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This council will help eradicate the 'fear factor' youths suffer from whenever they come across cyberbullies.

Having an official body that would safeguard the UAE's digital environment shall benefit young Netizens - especially those who encounter bullies on the Internet, experts have said, hailing the recent Cabinet decision to set up the National Council for Quality of Digital Life.

Salih Ismail, a computer science lecturer at Curtin University, said this council will help eradicate the 'fear factor' youths suffer from whenever they come across cyberbullies.

"A council that oversees these issues will give them the courage to approach their parents or a guardian to speak to them about their problems," he added.

"In most cases, young victims of cybercrimes try and fix issues on their own. This way, they often fall into deeper traps," said Ismail, who also organises safety workshops for the Dubai Electronics and Cyber Security Centre.

He praised His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, for the new initiative.

Council's role

In a tweet, the UAE Vice-President said the council will protect "our children, who spend many hours daily in the digital environment".

The National Council for Quality of Digital Life will monitor the implementation of policies and programmes in this regard.

It will raise awareness about safe digital practices and encourage the community to use technology for good and will review all the existing regulations and prepare a study based on recommendations given by multiple entities.

Hacking, Internet traps

A lot of people live under the misconception that a hacker is someone who is 'sitting in a basement somewhere prying into our systems', Ismail said. However, that's not how it works.

"The biggest concern in cybersecurity now is not hacking, but more on how we utilise the digital platform in a safe and secure way. In most cases, the weakest link is the human being. You cannot be safe when the password is 12345," he explained.

"People are targeted through social engineering, financial fraud, blackmailing, identity theft, etc."

Cybersecurity experts have said most of the attacks are effective because they leverage the concept of "trust" on which social networks are built. Some create a fabricated scenario to try and steal their victims' personal information.

Now, with a council tasked with raising awareness through the right channels, more people will be educated on how to avoid such issues and what to do in case they find themselves in these situations, Ismail said.

And in terms of bullying and cyberstalking, people would have the courage to speak up, he added.

"It would really be a positive catalyst to change, especially among young users."

Most victims lose money

Global cloud-based email management firm Mimecast, in their State of Email Security report, revealed that in cyber-impersonation cases, more than half of victims suffer financial losses.

"Having a whole department to educate people about cybercrimes and other criminal activity, while trying to maintain safety is excellent for the people of the UAE," Ismail said.

How cyber-awareness drives can help you

>It will demystify how hacking, blackmailing, phishing, financial fraud, and other cybercrimes work and help you avoid them

>It will educate you on what to do in case you encounter suspicious messages or activity online

>It can help you secure your online presence and personal information

>It can guide you on how you can use technology for the greater good

>Young victims of cyberbullying would have the courage to ask for help


Staff Reporter

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