x Abu Dhabi, UAE Thursday 20 July 2017

Officers deny hacking police database and deleting fines

Two police officers have been charged with hacking into a database and removing traffic fines registered against them.

DUBAI // Two police officers have been charged with hacking into a database and removing traffic fines registered against them. SA, 23, an Emirati corporal, and SM, 22, a policeman whose nationality was not given, both denied the charges at the Dubai Criminal Court of First Instance yesterday, even though prosecutors say they gave statements explaining exactly how they gained access to the system.

They are accused of using the identification numbers and passwords of colleagues to log into the Dubai Police Traffic Violations System and wiping out fines worth Dh3,650 (US$995) logged against them and one other person. The pair, who work in Dubai Police's emergency response centre, allegedly guessed the passwords of colleagues who had the authority to use the system and removed fines for violations such as speeding.

The court heard that the Deputy Chief of Police, Maj Gen Khamis al Mezaina, instructed investigators to track down the hackers on February 5 last year after a breach was detected. "The employees were using military identifications belonging to officers and removing the fines," said Khaled Mohammed, an officer assigned to the investigation. After the men were arrested they were referred to Al Qusais police station to face formal charges in May last year.

According to court documents, SA told investigators he logged onto the system using a friend's access codes and found one violation registered against his Nissan Patrol vehicle, then logged out and re-entered the system using the military identification number of the police lieutenant who had logged the offence, having guessed his password. SA told police that, rather than delete the fine himself, he gave the login details to SM, along with a second set of computer access codes he had discovered. SA claimed it was SM who had cancelled the fines.

The hearing was adjourned until March 11 when the defence will present its case. amustafa@thenational.ae