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MENAFN - Khaleej Times - 21/05/2014
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(MENAFN - Khaleej Times) With the social media dominating a large part of societal interaction nowadays resolutions to prevent the attacks from happening or at least minimise the risk are complicated.

(from left) mansour al shammari writer and academic from saudi arabia; moutaz kokash; ali al noaimi; and sabah yassin during a panel discussion at the forum. — kt photo by rahul gajjar

although humans have been accustomed to wars for many generations the world today has become a battlefield for virtual warfare and with the gulf region hit by huge financial losses as a result of cyber attacks how is the issue being challenged in a region dominated by digital interaction?

during a session titled ‘virtual warfare’ at the 14th arab media forum information technology expert moutaz kokash said online attacks on the gulf region recently resulted in financial losses reaching 11 billion. “just because it’s virtual doesn’t mean it’s any less damaging. these attacks are lethal and can turn into huge financial catastrophes for victims.”

despite this academic and media researcher sabah yassin said issues regarding legal protection against such crimes are difficult to quantify. “in the arab world there are some local procedures in place they are looking into setting up regulations to prevent cyber attacks but there are problems due to censorship.”

with the social media dominating a large part of societal interaction nowadays resolutions to prevent the attacks from happening or at least minimise the risk are complicated.

yassin said the sensitivity lies in “knowing where to stop” and said this is a huge deterrent in laying down official regulations as state-run initiatives could have oppressive knock-on effects for online users. “we need to protect peoples’ freedom and the setting up of regulations will put a stop to this.”

labeling these cyber wars as “doses of poison” the uae university’s vice chancellor ali al noaimi said the modern wars are run with no ethics or values by people merely looking to triumph in their own right. “cyber hackers often attack the infrastructure of the electronic systems of a state. they are destroying economies and countries and undermining the civil peace.”

with around 18 cyber attacks taking place per second kokash said these “electronic mercenaries” have spurred on a phenomenon where states and economies are constantly in fear of threat but like yassin said it is difficult to fix the issue without taking away peoples’ online freedom.

he said with 57 per cent of hackers noted as youths it is time to implement a mechanism to unify these youths instead of bringing in regulations to take away users’ online freedom. “microsoft goes to prisons and works with the hackers. it uses them to its advantage and deters them from being swayed by negativity.”

bringing the session to a close al noaimi said it is hard to impose sanctions to prevent virtual warfare as online interaction had become “part of our lives” but said the best way to help alleviate the issue is by making people aware of the risks.

kelly?khaleejtimes.com

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