Expert: Guard Absher password and mobile

Updated 20 August 2016

Expert: Guard Absher password and mobile

DAMMAM: A security expert has warned against disclosing password for one's Absher account or being lax in protecting the security of personal mobile.

He said the electronic system of the Ministry of Interior, which aims to provide e-services for citizens and residents in the Kingdom in a safe and accurate manner, can’t be easily hacked unless access is gained to the mobile phone of the account holder.
Digital evidence expert Abdulrazzaq Al-Murjan said failing to protect the mobile phone and access to the secret number needed for double authentication were the reasons behind the escape of the three Daesh sisters to Lebanon last week, before Saudi security authorities reached them.
He said Absher, through which the General Passport Directorate offers e-services in a safe and accurate manner around the clock, has two protection levels, which are the password and verification code.
He added the system offers a lot of services such as issuing residency visas, issuing exist and re-entry visas, and offering travel permit services for women and minors. One of the system’s main goals is to curb forging and counterfeiting.
He said that the three sisters' break-in into Absher was the subject of public debate on the social media. According to the Ministry of Interior, their travel procedures outside the Kingdom were regular, since they were able to get access to Absher data related to their guardian and issue e-travel permits for themselves and their children.
Al-Murjan said getting access to the password was not enough to get access to the account of the guardian. It was necessary to get the secret verification code which is delivered to the mobile phone linked to the account, in this case their guardian’s phone.
Al-Murjan said that there are many theories about how the guardian's account was hacked. It could be that one of them betrayed the guardian’s trust, either because he is ignorant about technology or because he trusted one of them. He might have sought the help of one of the sisters to create his password, and they might have exploited the chance to link their phone numbers to his account. They might have stolen the number to get access to the system and took the phone to get the verification code and issue the travel permit.
He said that getting access to the guardian’s account is an electronic crime, stressing that the hacking came from the guardian’s side, either because of his ignorance or weak protection or trust. This is an inside job and all the more difficult to stop.
He cited the case of a Saudi teacher, who is the mother to three children and divorced. She fled from Makkah to Jeddah and traveled to Turkey to join Daesh, but security authorities couldn’t stop her because they weren’t notified about her escape until after she left the country.
He said it is important to educate society about these risks and activate departure messages to the guardian, especially since the travel permit includes children under 21 years of age, which is the target group of terrorist organizations.


Kids going stir-crazy in isolation? Here’s how to keep them occupied

Updated 41 min 43 sec ago

Kids going stir-crazy in isolation? Here’s how to keep them occupied

  • Saudi mothers relate challenges in keeping their children from getting bored amid nationwide lockdown

RIYADH: School’s out for the foreseeable future, but every child’s dream is every mother’s worst nightmare. With nowhere else to go during the day, and most entertainment venues in the city cordoned off, mothers are discussing how the crisis has affected them, and more importantly, what they’re doing to control it.

Dr. Marwa Elagra, an assistant professor at REU, told Arab News about how she and her three children (4th grade, 1st grade, and nursery) were coping with the new social distancing policy and the challenges it posed for their education.

“In the beginning, during the first few days, their schools weren’t yet prepared for the sudden shutdown. It took them almost a week to prepare themselves,” she said.

Despite a somewhat bumpy beginning, things are starting to pick up. 

“They have virtual classes now, and interactive livestreaming with a certain schedule. They can follow up with their teachers, just like in a real classroom. They also send videos that students can watch at any time,” she said.

However, she struggles with getting the children out of “vacation mode,” and convincing them that they still need to study.

“That’s the main challenge in all of this. It’s quite difficult to control the kids around the house, especially since you can’t take them out. They’re jumping around all over the place. They’re doing their homework, but their brains just aren’t in the zone for it,” she said.

They (children) have virtual classes now, and interactive livestreaming with a certain schedule. They can follow up with their teachers, just like in a real classroom. They also send videos that students can watch at any time.

Dr. Marwa Elagra, assistant professor

She hopes that things return to normal soon, or at the very least that a clear plan for the future will emerge after the proposed isolation period is up.

“I hope it doesn’t last for long, especially for primary classes. It is difficult to continue online; they need to interact with their teachers. It is a great pressure on us as moms, we can’t fulfill the role of teachers who are more experienced with children. I am in the academic field myself but I don’t have experience with kids,” she said.

She also has concerns about what these decisions could mean for her children’s academic future and hopes everything will be resolved soon.

“Are they going to give the kids exams or they will end school without them and just count the first term results? Are they going to stop and continue earlier at the beginning of the next academic year? This unclear vision of what will happen is creating the panic between most moms,” she said.

She also has advice for mothers going through the same thing. 

“Have more patience, support and encourage your kids to do more reading, and not only academic reading. Look at the positive side and make use of this long vacation in increasing the knowledge and skills of your kids,” she said.

Dr. May Al-Khudhairy, dean of the College of Applied Medical Sciences at Riyadh Elm University, is making the most of the time she is spending at home with her four children.

“I love having them home because during the week they get home so late that I don’t spend enough quality time with them. I’m even reconsidering all their after-school activities. I’ve forgotten how this time is precious and we need to savor it as long as possible,” she said.

With colleges across the country closed until further notice, Al-Khudhairy is also working from home, a situation that makes it easier to supervise her children and make sure their schoolwork gets done. 

“We sit outdoors and work parallel. The older kids will do their school assignments, and the youngest does her simple Pre-K activities that I find online, from sites like Storynory and Pinterest,” she said.

She recommends that mothers try to keep children occupied with tasks that can be both informative and entertaining. 

“We bake brownies and cupcakes and do experiments, like creating slime at home. Anything to keep busy. They paint, and every day they change it around. And of course, we wash our hands a zillion times a day,” she said.