x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Dubai Police investigate possible hacking of their tweets

Police investigate possibility that someone within the force, or a former employee, is making unauthorised and malicious use of the account.

DUBAI // Dubai Police are looking into the possibility that its Twitter feed has been hacked after false tweets were posted with untrue claims that were immediately disowned by the force.

A tweet on the @dubaipolicehq feed said the "BlackBerry Messenger hacker", who was behind the spread of a malicious BBM message that bombarded police emergency lines with tens of thousands of calls, had been arrested.

But police said no one had been arrested, and the officer responsible for the Twitter feed stressed the message had not been posted by him, or with his authority.

It raised a possibility that someone within the force, or a former employee, is making unauthorised and malicious use of the account.

On July 5, Abu Dhabi police announced they had received more than 13,000 calls in only five hours after a hoax message was sent out through BlackBerry messenger.

Between 5pm and 10pm that day Abu Dhabi police received 13,338 calls, more than 44 a minute and three times the normal rate. Dubai police also had thousands of calls.

The message read: "A person took a screenshot while he was calling the police, see what happened."

But the computer code within the link started with "tel://112" - meaning it triggered a call to the emergency number.

"When operators called back the numbers they discovered the callers had no idea what happened," said Brig Gen Khalil Ibrahim Al Mansoori, the head of Dubai CID.

At about 3pm yesterday, a message was tweeted on the "The Dubai Police Criminal Investigation Department has arrested a number of people who are suspected to have caused the 999 calls."

Another said: "Dubai Police and Canadian company RIM have blocked emergency calls to 911 today." A third read: "Brigadier General Al Mansoori: We are currently interrogating the suspects to know who was the main person behind the link that caused the 999 calls."

All were false, according to Brig Al Mansoori.

amustafa@thenational.ae