At the #Safeupwhatsapp press conference, experts expressed how leaving a mobile phone unattended can take up to only 30 seconds for anyone to gain access to a smartphone’s messaging service.
An educational campaign was created by the Emirates Safer Internet Society (E-SAFE) in order to make sure that users were being safe, especially children from being hacked into the most popular texting platform, Whatsapp, currently used by one billion people worldwide.
A live demonstration was presented by Hussain Adel Al Hashemi, E-SAFE Emirati youth champion, on how easily users can be tricked by hackers to let them use their phones, even if it is for less than a minute.
The hacker is able to access all the content that WhatsApp contains once they have your phone. They scan the phones QR code through the online WhatsApp site on the computer. Once the intruder has scanned the QR code, they have the ability to freely send messages to all the contacts and delete any messages sent from these contacts.
The campaigns intentions are to make sure children are protected from these types of online hackers as statistics have shown that teens spend an average of 10 hours per day online. The campaign will post a short awareness video on social media which will also be shown in schools through future E-SAFE Society programmes.
Other programs by E-SAFE include the National Awareness Roadshow, Corporate Parental Education, capacity upgrade of psychosocial professionals, and internationally recognised studies on child online issues from the region.
As communication is becoming less linear and more sophisticated, CEO of E-SAFE Society Hamed Al Neyadi is worried on the extensive risks that children are exposed to nowadays. In this digital world it is important to make sure children are aware and educated to ensure that they have the ability to overcome any risks that they may encounter.
97 per cent of people in the region said that they use WhatsApp regularly, according to a survey by E-SAFE. 88 per cent of the respondents said that they freely allow immediate family to access their phone unattended and 22 per cent said that they let their friends go through their phone.
8 out of 10 WhatApp users never log out of WhatsApp Web which is an easy way for people to access a WhatsApp account from a computer or other web devices. Continuously staying connected through WhatsApp Web can leave users extremely vulnerable.
WhatApp Inc has been contacted by the E-SAFE Society on the recent discovery of the potential threat of the app’s web feature. They have been requested to create a safety feature that will notify users when their WhatsApp account is being accessed any web service.
Parents have also been asked to practise “e-positive parenting” that will help create easier communication between them and their children. Building a close relationship with children will help create a better and more open communication between the parent and child so that if any threat is being faced by a child online, they can confide in their parents.
Online informative programmes are also encouraged for parents to be a part of so that they can increase their understanding of the online space.
E-SAFE Society, the non-profit company that is based in the UAE, hopes to be a globally recognised hub for child online protection by 2021.