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Deleting your phone data won’t keep you safe from cyber crime, especially if you’re a university student

If it's on the web, it isn't private, say experts

SAMAA | - Posted: Mar 22, 2019 | Last Updated: 3 years ago
Posted: Mar 22, 2019 | Last Updated: 3 years ago

If it's on the web, it isn't private, say experts

The information you delete from your phone doesn’t get permanently deleted. It stays on the internet and can be used by third-party websites and the information of university students is most at risk.

“University students are the main targets of cyber-crime,” said The Network for Consumer Protection CEO Nadeem Iqbal on SAMAA TV’s Naya Din. He said, however, that their information is not always shared for criminal purposes.

His company conducted a survey and asked people between the ages of 21 and 30 if their information can be shared with third parties. Around 70% replied that they don’t want it to be. He revealed that telecom providers share consumers’ data with third parties to which they have unknowingly agreed through the terms of agreement. Consumers are rarely aware of this but since nobody reads the detailed policy, everyone is at risk.

“Telecom agencies should educate the consumer,” he urged.

Related: Two thirds of Android antivirus apps don’t work

“If it is on the web, it is not private,” IT expert Dr Asim Ali said. “Any picture or document you upload on the web is not safe. Even if you are not connected to the internet, any information on your phone has the potential to be misused,” he said.

Ali also revealed that even when our phones are not connected to the internet, our information is insecure. We cannot be sure if there is a background app working on our phone which accumulates this information and sends to someone as soon as we connect to the internet. If an expert hacker decides to get hold of your data, they can easily access it. “Even if your device is switched off, wrapped in chains or buried hundred feet under the sea, it is still not safe,” he said.

And it doesn’t matter if you use the most expensive phone, whether it is an Android or iOS.

‘Jailbreaking’ means getting root access to an iOS device. Ali said that anybody can easily jailbreak a phone, which shows how easy it is to gain access to your private information if your phone gets stolen. He said there should be awareness about this issue.

“The cyber-crime law has been in effect since 2016 and we are enforcing it,” said FIA Cyber Crime Wing Assistant Director Asif Iqbal. He said that the FIA receives many complaints regarding misuse of information and they think that there is still some room for improvement in Pakistan’s cyber-crime laws.

Related: IBM used people’s photos without consent for facial recognition programme

Iqbal said if someone tries to destroy data or gain access to sensitive information, they will be arrested. He advises people to not keep their personal data on their mobile phones, especially if it is something that cannot or should not be shown to someone.

What happens to those who break the privacy and security laws?

According to Section 20 of the Prevention of Electronic Crimes Act, 2016, there is three years imprisonment if you share someone’s data on the internet without their permission, explained Iqbal. If that data includes pictures or videos that are ‘unethical’ and can’t be shown to the public, then it is a non-bailable offence with five to seven years imprisonment.

The judiciary takes such offences seriously. In 2018, there were 7,000 to 8,000 complaints registered.

The process is that once we receive the complaint, we start an inquiry, he explained. In most cases, the people behind these crimes are the victim’s friends or family members.

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