Saudi Arabia: Online predators blackmailing vulnerable children

Abu Dhabi: A study carried out by Saudi Arabia’s King Saud University revealed that children and teenagers are the most likely age groups to fall victim to rumours and blackmail on social media, while young people are the most vulnerable to impersonation.

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Focusing on victim surveys, Researcher Abrar Abdul Razzaq Abed studied the relationship between the use of social media and the spread of information technology crimes.

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The survey showed 55 per cent of people polled believe that rumours and their rapid circulation was the most disturbing aspect of social media, followed by wasting time with 20 per cent, and a lack of privacy 17 per cent.

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Internationally, annual crime prevalence rates ranged from 1 to 3 per cent for online shopping fraud, from less than 1 to 2 per cent for online banking/payment fraud.

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Less than 1 per cent of the population is a victim of other types of fraud and a maximum of 3 per cent of the population experiences some sort of online bullying such as stalking (1 per cent) or threatening (1 per cent). Between 1–6 per cent are victims of hacking.

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The estimates for being a victim of malware range from 2 to 15 per cent. For all offences it cannot be estimated how much of the differences are due to variation in methods and questioning between the studies or real differences between countries or change over time.

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Classifying cybercrime and estimating its prevalence

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Researcher Abrar says there was no existing clear classification, stable over time that captures all possible old, new and possible future types of cybercrime.

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She adds the multiple names of cybercrime are due to the continuous development that it is going through, the multiplicity and different means of committing it, the discovery of new types, in addition to the diversity and different perspectives of its knowledge.

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Parents in Saudi Arabia have been advised to keep a close eye on their children’s internet use to prevent them falling victim to online scams.

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The Saudi study presented a number of recommendations, including: the need to pay attention to studying the psychological and social effects of falling victim to cybercrime, as well as studying the psychological motives of criminals, as an attempt to understand and explain the phenomenon, then suggest possible solutions to avoid these problems, and raise awareness of the dangers of cybercrime and ways to prevent them among members of society, by developing short and medium-term strategic plans that include planned media campaigns, to achieve the greatest protection and safe use of social media users of different age groups.

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