IMPERSONATORS DELUDE INTERNET, MOBILE USERS WITH FAKE LINKS

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Government combats electronic fraud; Oversharing on social media a significant risk

KUWAIT CITY, Aug 24: While the use of digital technologies is increasing in the business and services sector in the country and the rest of the world, the number of impersonators of government agencies, financial markets and the banking sector is increasing, to delude Internet and smartphone users with fake links to steal their money, reports Al-Qabas daily. The cybersecurity specialists recently monitored a group of fake impersonations of government websites dealing with postal delivery services and consumer protection complaints, in addition to fake links impersonating commercial banks in Kuwait and KNET services.

While government agencies are working to publish data and warning messages against falling into the network of fake links and unofficial websites, the Kuwaiti postal services were the most impersonated entities, and the total number of those links that were circulated recently reached approximately 6, all with different fake names and electronic extensions with the aim to defraud the users of those sites. The fraudsters rely on the use of the feature of advertising their links, as once they inquire about government services through the search links, a group of announced links appear at the beginning of the search, for unknown people, and those who are unaware or experienced in the subject become victims.

The consumer protection sector in the Ministry of Commerce was the second most impersonated entity, where 4 links with the name of a complaint spread across the Internet were finally monitored, obtaining people’s data by simply registering their information, then contacting them and deluding them into following up on the complaint and then robbing them.

After government agencies, there is a group of fake links to the banking sector, financial services and communications, where fraudsters rely on creating similar pages and then working to spread them among individuals, as financial payment links in exchange for purchasing goods from fake sites. To address these mounting challenges, the Kuwaiti government has initiated measures to combat electronic fraud, including partnerships between various agencies.

One such example is the collaboration between the Ministry of Affairs and Charitable Societies, which led to the arrest of numerous entities impersonating charitable organizations to solicit fraudulent donations. Continuing this momentum, the Communications and Information Technology Regulatory Authority (CITRA) and the Capital Markets Authority have recently signed an agreement in August to collaborate on blocking and unblocking electronic content and exchanging expertise, particularly to prevent financial fraud in the securities domain. Additionally, coordination efforts between the Central Bank, Ministry of Interior, and other relevant parties are ongoing to track hacking groups.

Experts emphasize that addressing financial fraud necessitates ongoing coordination among government agencies to safeguard investments from individuals and businesses. Fraudulent companies and unofficial trading platforms often employ misleading tactics and appealing offers, aiming to deceive people into making quick, highprofit investments and subsequently making off with their money.

Upcoming agreements are anticipated to target fake websites impersonating Kuwaiti banks. Authorities are continually communicating to underscore the dangers posed by fraudulent links and websites mimicking Kuwaiti entities. Recently, links impersonating the Ministry of Interior have circulated, offering to handle tasks such as paying traffic violations and renewing civil IDs.

The Kuwait Information Security Society has warned against local numbers contacting individuals about bank card suspensions, as well as video communications imitating Kuwaiti security personnel with the intent of stealing personal information. Shorouq Al-Sayegh, a Board member of the Kuwaiti Society for Information Technology, cautions against excessive sharing of information on social media platforms. She underscores that in our interconnected digital landscape, maintaining a reasonable level of digital privacy is crucial to mitigate the serious risks associated with oversharing.

Al-Sayegh advises disabling or deleting old or inactive social media accounts, thoughtful consideration before sharing online, maintaining control over one’s digital footprint, and utilizing social media positively while avoiding unhealthy comparisons. Ten modern methods of electronic fraud include sending links claiming to renew the civil card and deliver it to your address; links whose mission is to access the password of bank accounts; contacting the victim via phone and taking data, the most important of which is (OTP); software that hides caller numbers; WhatsApp messages to pay traffic fines and residence fines; websites bearing the name and logo of the bank or financial institution; bogus bank letters by email or text message; granting loans on easy terms or repaying loans without reasonable conditions; promotional communications that entice the victim to conclude investment deals and text messages sent to the victim about the expiry of the bank card.

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