Hacking: potentially a new kind of war in the Middle East

Monday, 17 November 2003, 7:03 AM EST

The Middle East accounts for just over 1 per cent of hacking globally ­ a statistic about unauthorized breaking into computer systems that may not necessarily jolt you. But take a closer look. In the United Arab Emirates alone, hacking in the first six months of this year grew 300 percent over the last six months of 2002.

Just one hacking incident ­ the ATM fraud ­ earlier this year, meant the country lost between $2 billion and $3 billion. The hacking group which got access to bank computers storing user IDs was later traced to Indonesia. But with no cyber laws in place in many developing countries, bringing the perpetrators to justice is unlikely.

The countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council, including Saudi Arabia, are now holding meetings to put together a cyber law. The law will enable the Gulf Arab countries to cooperate with one another in dealing with cyber crime. European countries already have a cooperation agreement among themselves on this issue. And so do Europe and the US.

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