Tuesday, August 09, 2022 | Muharram 10, 1444 H
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EDITOR IN CHIEF- ABDULLAH BIN SALIM AL SHUEILI

Family awareness key to cover children against cyber crimes

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Families should promote awareness among children to ward off cyber attacks and minimise online risks instead of depending on government initiatives, according to an expert at the 2nd Oman Cyber ​​Security Conference on Safe Economy held under the auspices of Saeid bin Hamoud al Maawali, Minister of Transport, Communications and Information Technology, in Muscat on Wednesday.


Dr Ahmed al Kalbani, Dean at the Advanced Cyber Security Academy, said self awareness and familial awareness are the two key elements needed to ward off any cyber attacks particularly on the children and adults in general.


“There is a deep void in terms of cyber awareness among the families and it should be discussed and inculcated in the children in the familial surroundings. Cyber safety is the responsibility of one and all and not just the government alone,” he said, adding that cyber safety should be part of the school or college curricula.


“In a society that is heavily dependent on the virtual world, a segment in the school or college or university curricula should be set aside for cyber safety and security and children should grow with the awareness of the same.”


The Sultanate of Oman reported 2,894 local cyber crimes in 2021 which is nearly 10 per cent of the total crimes committed in the same year.


According to experts, this is an alarming rate especially when children are more into online education amid Covid-19. Crimes involving information technology and electronic transactions were next to commercial crimes and this shows how criminals in the cyber world are targeting the vulnerable lot.


Proper campaigning against cyber crimes needs to be in place, according to cyber experts who gathered at the conference.


The Sultanate of Oman reported a 25-per cent rise in cyber crimes in 2020 compared to 2019, with six major crimes, namely bullying, harassment, blackmailing, extortion, data breach and identity theft ranking the top.


Reports suggest that almost all social media platforms are used by the perpetrators to commit fraud or crimes.


“The onus lies with the parents and teachers to safeguard the children from falling prey to such crimes. Educate the children on the risks of using social media inappropriately and not send personal data or pictures to a stranger or an online friend as this might take them to dangers,” Dr Ahmed said.


Abdullah al Shueili, Editor-in-Chief of Oman Daily Observer, moderated the media session on the role of media in tackling cyber crimes.


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