Dubai: If you have made detailed plans for your summer getaway, you may be looking forward to sharing all the special moments of your trip through social media. However, travellers have been advised by Dubai Police to not share pictures of their boarding pass on social media and also exercise some basic precautions when abroad, to stay safe.
Last month, Dubai Police issued an advisory to travellers, asking them to not post pictures of their boarding pass on social media, through which personal information can be accessed.
In an interview with Gulf News, Colonel Saeed Al Hajri, Director of the Cyber Investigations Department at Dubai Police spoke in detail about what led to the advisory being issued by Dubai Police.
“We receive between 100 to 200 reports a day from the eCrime service of social media incidents, hacking attempts, or fraud that is committed by online predators,” Al Hajri said.
The eCrime platform by Dubai Police – www.ecrime.ae – is a self-service portal that allows the public to record a complaint regarding cybercrimes.
Speaking about the pattern of criminal behaviour, Colonel Al Hajri said: “Online predators try to find a weakness, either in the system or through people’s habits, or they try to convince people through social engineering in order to find sensitive data and utilise it in their attacks for financial gain.”
Source: Webroot, a US-based cyber security company
With UAE residents and citizens planning their summer vacation to different countries – which may not have the same level of security as the UAE – Al Hajri provided some basic guidelines that travellers should keep in mind to stay safe.
1. Don’t post pictures of your ID, tickets, boarding pass
“Your passport, ID, tickets and boarding pass all have sensitive data. These details could be sent to a bank and your bank account could get acquired by a criminal. The data could also be used to give permission to any authority, which needs only these details, to get access to their legal or financial services. Criminals could also utilise loyalty points that you have acquired for financial gains," Al Hajri said.
He added that constantly posting your pictures or selfies can be problematic.
"There are many apps that can correlate social media pictures to get a face ID. These applications can be commercially available and be accessed by international online criminals or gangs," he said.
Your passport, ID, tickets and boarding pass all have sensitive data. These details could be sent to a bank and your bank account could get acquired by a criminal. The data could also be used to give permission to any authority, which needs only these details, to get access to their legal or financial services. Criminals could also utilise loyalty points that you have acquired for financial gains.
2. Try to be conservative in what you are sharing online.
Promoting a wealthy lifestyle not only creates a negative impact on people following you on social media, it also makes you vulnerable to online attacks, according to Al Hajiri.
“You might be sharing details like your name and location, and some countries may not have very strong security measures, unlike the UAE,” he said.
This might lead to travellers being targeted because of the information they are sharing.
3. Travel light
When you are travelling, it is also advisable to avoid wearing expensive watches or jewellery, as you might be targeted by pickpockets. Al Hajri also advised travellers to ensure they are always paying attention to their surroundings.
"Keep an eye on your purse, passports and valuables. Utilise the security tools provided by the hotel where you are staying [for valuable items],” he added.
4. Tell your neighbours to check in while you are away
Al Hajiri also advised people to inform their neighbours or a trustworthy friend when they are travelling, as the home’s lights and airconditioning would be switched on from time to time.
“If you have an automated [smart home] system, that is the best,” Al Hajri added.
Dubai Police also has a ‘home security’ service, which allows villa residents to sign up and have patrol cars keep an eye on their home, when they are patrolling the neighbourhood. Read more about it here.
5. Get a certificate on digital wellbeing
On February 2, 2022, the UAE Cabinet approved the establishment of the UAE Council for Digital Wellbeing, chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai. The council also issues an online certificate to people who pledge to uphold the principles of the UAE Positive Digital Citizenship Charter.
“This will give you a lot of values which represent our culture in the UAE. When you read these values, you understand it and apply it, you will be less likely to be targeted by criminals,” Al Hajiri said.
2. Digital Reputation: To best represent my country and promote its reputation in the digital world.
3. Respect others: To respect others, their privacy and intellectual rights and to refrain from bullying them or harming their digital identity.
4. Positive Investment: To use the digital world to enhance my skills and keep abreast of change in line with the UAE’s vision.
5. Kindness: To promote the values of solidarity, compassion and positivity, and to use social media wisely.
6. Digital Privacy: To protect others’ personal information and privacy.
7. Credibility: To make sure the content I am sharing or receiving is credible and to always use reliable sources.
8. Responsibility and Regulations: To be responsible in the digital world and to abide by its rules and regulations.
9. Digital Ethics: To contribute to eliminating any content that is inconsistent with ethics and human values.
10. Balanced Usage: To maintain my physical and mental health through finding a good balance between real and digital worlds.
6. Getting a great deal on air tickets? Make sure the vendor is authorised
It is also important to keep in mind that purchasing tickets through unauthorised vendors can land you in legal trouble.
“Some people advertise discounts on tickets through social media, but these discounts are not genuine. They might use a stolen credit card to purchase these tickets and the traveler will fall into trouble because he will be questioned and investigated. So, please do not follow these promotions on social media,” Al Hajri said.
7. Want to share travel pictures? Do it after a few days.
Finally, Al Hajri also advised people to be prudent about when they are sharing holiday pictures. While documenting your trip and sharing it with friends can be fun and fulfilling, it is important to pause before you post.
“Putting pictures up after some time is better, wait for a day or two days. Live streaming can be risky,” he said.