Stealing data from phones, computers can land you in jail

By Vinod Nair — MUSCAT: Jan. 9 – Breaking into the phones or computers and trying to access its content is a crime punishable by up to six months jail and a fine of RO 500, according to Public Prosecution in Oman. “Mobile phones are portable laptops these days with lots of personal and professional information. We are just not sure how to protect these data and what to do in case of a data theft or attack. Good that there is a strong law in this regard,” said Haitham al Balushi, who is addicted to exploring apps. He is very reluctant to get his mobile repaired and would prefer to buy a new one for the fear of data theft.

“Strong laws may not prevent hackers or cyber criminals but they can still offer safety net or some solace to the victims,” said Sanjay Menon, who had experiences dealing with cyber crimes for his company. “People may not get to know that their data has been stolen immediately, or in same cases it could be after months, if not years,” he said. Gartner Research Company forecasts that 20.8 billion connected things will be in use by 2020, which means there will be two to three connected device for every one.

According to Macafee, many software updates contain security fixes to unknown vulnerabilities on your devices. “When you learn of a new software upgrade, or get an update notice, update your device. Implementing updates as they become available is one of the best ways to protect your device from attacks,” it said. It adds that don’t open or accept text messages from people you don’t know. Texts from unfamiliar numbers may be attempts to infect your device with any unknown vulnerability.

Oman’s Cyber Crime law, issued by Royal Decree No 12/2011, under chapter 2 on Violation of Safety, confidentiality of data and electronic information and the informational systems states that ‘Everyone who intentionally and illegally access an electronic site or informational system or information technology tools or part of it or exceeded his authorised access to it or continued his existence therein after being aware of his access, shall be punished with imprisonment for a period not less than one month and not exceeding six months and a fine not less than RO 100 and not more than RO 500 or by either penalty.”
It adds, “If the acts mentioned in the above paragraph resulted in deletion or change or amendment or disfigure or mischief or copying or destruction or re-dissemination of data or electronic information saved in the informational system or the tools of the information technology, or damaging that system or the information technology tools or the informational network or causes damage to users or beneficiaries, then the penalty shall be with imprisonment for a period not less than 6 months and not  exceeding one year and a fine not less than RO 500 and not exceeding RO 1,000 or by either penalty’.
Further, ‘If the data and information provided in the second paragraph above is personal then the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period
not less than one year and not exceeding three years and a fine not less than RO 1,000 and not exceeding RO 3,000 or by either penalty’.