Cyber fraud constitutes one aspect of modern crimes that have spread recently in the UAE, threatening many individuals of the society, particularly after the increasing use of modern technology in such areas as communications, management, banking and finance, these being data that constitute a fertile environment for the activities of cyber gangs. The latest of these crimes has recently been revealed by the Electronic Investigation Division, General Department of Criminal Investigation, Dubai Police. The division arrested an Internet fraud gang of African and Asian nationalities specializing in hacking into and planting software to access the information related to companies and looting their money inside and outside the UAE. The division seized commercial papers and forged cheques valued at AED 6 billion in their possession.
This is not the first time that cyber frauds of this magnitude are discovered and those involved are arrested. Earlier, Abu Dhabi Police, in collaboration with the UAE Central Bank, foiled in 2010 many cyber frauds targeting the Central Bank for withdrawal of billions of dirhams by falsifying some papers and documents. Add to this the cyber frauds that targeted the PIN of customers’ accounts and data of credit cards for criminal purposes, causing the UAE to lose huge amounts of money annually. According to Norton’s report on Internet security which was published in 2011, cyber crimes cost the UAE’s economy around AED2.25 billion a year. The report showed that at least two UAE residents fall victim of cyber crimes per minute by effect of viruses, scam messages and phishing etc.
The UAE remains among the most countries targeted by electronic scams in the region, particularly that it occupies the forefront in terms of the widespread use of the Internet, employment of digital technology and level of e-readiness as part of its orientation towards a knowledge-based economy and its keenness on activating the digital culture and publicizing electronic transactions in the various ministries and organizations with the aim of keeping pace with what is happening in the developed world. By virtue of the prominent economic position it occupies nowadays and the climate of economic openness it offers, the UAE is more vulnerable than other countries of the region to this type of cyber crimes and this necessitates official and non-official entities to double efforts to confront various manifestations of cyber frauds.
Despite the diversity of cyber frauds targeting individuals and financial and banking institutions, the UAE has been able to deal most effectively with this type of crimes, thanks to its integrated strategy, which depends on adopting the latest technologies for electronic applications, employing the latest mechanisms and solutions for network security in its integrated bases and trying to improve the ability of the individuals of the society to use electronic services via the “Digital Citizen” program, which is aimed at eradicating IT illiteracy for all segments of the society. This comes in parallel with the effective efforts exerted by the UAE security and police authorities, which are keen on improving their performance with the aim of coping with the world’s various technical and electronic developments in the field of fighting cyber crimes, adopting the electronic forensic science and building security expertise to face all forms of cyber crimes and keep track and spot perpetrators most urgently.