Saudi Arabia bans iPhones and Galaxy ‘tablets’ at security organizations


The Saudi interior ministry has issued a ban on the use of iPhones and Galaxy ‘tablets’ at its security institutions. The ban, imposed to protect these institutions, will take effect Saturday.

The cited security concern is that these high-tech telecommunication gadgets are easily infiltrated via hacking, the London-based Asharq Al Awsat reported on Friday.

A security source told the paper that the ministry has received orders to issue the ban inside institutions and security headquarters. IT specialists and experts reiterate the ministry’s security concerns and agree that these gadgets can violate privacy of both people and institutions.

Saudi Arabia is not the first country to issue the ban, but the United States and a number of European countries have done so too at security organizations.

“Each organization should have its own criteria to prescribe what is allowable and what is not from gadgets pertinent to the security of its information,” Talha Jarad, an IT specialist told the paper, adding “securing information is highly dependable on what such organizations decide and in respect to the volume of risks related to the use of such equipment inside their outlets.”

Hacking is not an assault only concerning government agencies; everyday people also can be susceptible to fraud.

US bank Citigroup Inc. is to replace about 100,000 credit cards for its North American customers after its systems were breached by a hacking attack affecting about 200,000 accounts.

The Citi hacking has spurred debate on whether new ways can be found to use mobile banking. Security officials cited by The Wall Street Journal said that an infected application downloaded on a phone can be designed to take over a smartphone.

Many mobile-banking applications don’t factor in possibilities that a phone would be compromised, said Jason Rouse, a wireless security expert with Cigital, a software consulting firm.

When the user then logs on to his bank account with the phone, the hacker could steal the user’s bank credentials – not to mention money.

(Dina Al-Shibeeb, a senior editor at Al Arabiya English, can be reached at: [email protected])