Abu Dhabi police hit by hack

Call centre swamped by deluge of fake calls

Tags: Abu Dhabi PoliceBlackBerryBlackBerry MessengerCyber crimeEtisalat International - UAEUnited Arab Emirates
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Abu Dhabi police hit by hack BlackBerry users across the UAE have been hit by a hoax message which, when opened, automatically dials the Abu Dhabi police. (ITP Images)
By  Georgina Enzer Published  July 6, 2011

BlackBerry users across the UAE have been hit by a hack which sends users a message, once the message is opened the phone calls the Abu Dhabi Police switchboard. This resulted in the switchboard being swamped by over 13,000 calls in five hours on Monday, according to Gulf News.

The hoax message read: "A person took a screenshot while he was calling the police, see what happened!"

When users clicked the link in the message, their phone called the 999 emergency number, often without the user's knowledge.

Abu Dhabi Police have confirmed that they received 13,338 calls, more than 44 per minute, between 5pm and 10pm on Monday.

This is nearly three times the normal call rate.

When police realized the calls were linked to the hoax message, they sent out a broadcast on radio stations across the UAE, warning BlackBerry user's not to open the message.

Police have now launched a countrywide manhunt to catch the perpetrator of the hack.

Police have said that the deluge of calls at the call centre wasted police time and, while the emergency call centre system withstood the attack, it put unnecessary stress on the system.

Police also said that the hack could have put lives at risk by slowing police responses to real emergencies.

Both Etisalat and the force's Department of Information Technology have been called in to help trace the source of the message.

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