x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 July 2017

Protect your personal details, social media users warned at GCC meeting

"Hackers can get a total and perfect profile of you from social media, where you live and what your job is," cautions a response analyst with the TRA.

Khalifa Al Shamsi, incident handler and response analyst for the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, told the Social Media Summit that “we have to be careful about the things we share”. Razan Alzayani / The National
Khalifa Al Shamsi, incident handler and response analyst for the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority, told the Social Media Summit that “we have to be careful about the things we share”. Razan Alzayani / The National

DUBAI // Internet users must strike a balance between their social-media use and online security, the final day of a conference on social media heard yesterday.

Khalifa Al Shamsi, of the Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), warned of hackers obtaining private information using social media.

“Hackers can get a total and perfect profile of you from social media, where you live and what your job is,” Mr Al Shamsi warned.

“We have to be careful about the things we share with others. The same message applies to government institutions – and there should be guidelines for what government employees can share.”

Mr Al Shamsi, an incident handler and response analyst with the TRA, was speaking at the GCC Government Social Media Summit in Dubai yesterday.

He suggested steps to help keep users safe while using social media sites, including Facebook and Twitter.

Users should ensure they have the correct privacy settings, check the legitimacy of the social-media programs they are using and regularly update anti-virus software.

Mr Al Shamsi said that parents should teach their children how to safely use social media and to be aware of what is acceptable to share.

He recommended that users google themselves to see what information is available to others.

“Look at what will come up when you search for yourself and maybe you will find something that you do not want to be there,” Mr Al Shamsi said. “Some things can be wrongly interpreted and be exploited.”

His advice was reinforced by Dr Jean-Marc Rickli, assistant professor at the Institute for International and Civil Security at Khalifa University.

Dr Rickli said social media was vulnerable to politically motivated hackers, who could disrupt the spread of legitimate information during times of upheaval.

George Kalliamvakos, of the Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority (TCA), explained how the authority has successfully used social media over the past year.

“Social media is not just about the number of ‘likes’ you have, it is about engaging with your audience,” Mr Kalliamvakos said.

He said the TCA had pushed for better interaction with its social-media followers and to promote the capital’s events to the widest audience possible.

Hamad Obaid Al Mansouri, deputy director general for information and eGovernment at the TRA, said the authority had set a deadline for its online push to better serve the public.

“We have positioned ourselves to be fully social and mobile by the end of 2015, across all government-related sectors and departments, and we are confident that this will lead to a better understanding of the needs of our people on a real-time basis,” Mr Al Mansouri said.

Mohammed Nasser Al Ghanim, the TRA’s director general, summed up the importance of working with social media.

“There has never been a more pertinent time to speak about government’s relationship with social media,” he said. “The concerted focus on how government departments can better incorporate social networks into communications strategies is one that officials right across the world are engaged in.

“The UAE operates right at the cutting edge of this international trend and events such as these are crucial to continuation of this development.

“Both citizens and business in the UAE currently enjoy a state of digital preparedness that is the direct result of our leadership’s foresight.

“Recognising the need for social media’s prominent place in government communications is no longer optional, but a necessity.”

ksinclair@thenational.ae