Authorities issue fraud warnings – ‘Careful on calls’
Government services agencies, especially those related to providing social assistance and collecting funds are facing a dangerous phenomenon that aims to rob Kuwaitis and expats, through the use of their logos and images of their employees spread across the cyberspace, reports Al-Qabas daily.
With the recent warnings issued by the ministries of Social Affairs and Health, in addition to the Cybercrime Department of the Ministry of Interior, about not responding to incoming calls from unknown persons requesting personal data, but the victims are still falling prey and are robbed. President of the Kuwait Society for Information Security, Dr. Safa’a Zaman, when asked about the way fraudsters access the data of victims — citizens or residents — said the matter is related to the insecurity of the information network used by some government institutions or even the private sector, which may become a victim of internal hacking operations. It is carried out by an employee in the same organization, from which the data is leaked to fraudsters.
Zaman stated that the Information Security Society recently observed that some closed companies operating in the insurance sector sold their customers’ data after they transferred their activities and licenses to the general trade and contracting, indicating that Kuwaiti law does not punish such procedures, and called for the need for legislation or a decision to prohibit such actions.
These issues contribute to the prevalence of fraud against citizens or residents. She stressed that there is no law that protects data or is held accountable for such abuses in the sale of data by the private sector, and there are no government regulators that monitor contracts concluded with companies working in the field of developing websites and systems for state ministries and agencies, which puts the latter at risk of losing their data or is in the hands of unofficial parties.
Zaman indicated that government systems, data and applications that are released from time to time are not 100% secure, as the data is not encrypted and its rules are not properly secured, which exposes them to theft. She indicated the importance of changing the pattern of dealing with government transactions and procedures or in the private sector, through the civil number of the citizen or resident, as obtaining it through delegates or applications facilitates the process of fraud, especially with fraudsters who have customer data and only need a confirmation number to transfer stolen money. She called for activating safe financial policies through banks to prevent transfers between accounts without formal communication between customers, if the amounts are large, in order to ensure safety and prevent electronic fraud, which is witnessing a continuous development. She added, “It is important that there be a specialized department in cybersecurity in Kuwait, away from the cybercrime department, which looks at problems other than online fraud, because the competent departments can prevent fraud and return the stolen money faster and easier.”
In addition, the Ministry of Affairs called on citizens and residents to exercise caution, as a result of the actions of some fake and suspicious accounts that impersonate the Ministry on Facebook and other websites, by placing false advertisements about providing a financial grant and demand some personal information.
The ministry confirmed in a statement that it places advertisements or request such information in all of its official accounts, noting that the ministry had taken legal measures against some accounts and will take the same measures through legal channels towards accounts that have recently published such advertisements. Steps to face scam emails — download the call blocker application and filter calls and annoying messages, activate the feature to silence unknown callers, do not give the phone number easily to any person or entity, do not answer automated calls from unknown destinations. Do not fall prey when fraudsters request for a vaccination certificate to amend the data, call to schedule a booster dose, announcement of winning a mobile phone, internet package renewal announcement, renewal of government health insurance, offer social assistance to citizens and request donations from charities.