It gives me great pleasure to welcome you to this Blog. I look forward to meeting with you here each day and listening to your ideas, opinions and suggestions. We, at the Information Technology Authority (ITA), consider you as our partners in building Oman’s Digital Society and eGovernment.
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Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi
Chief Executive Officer of ITA
Beware of Cyber Blackmail
With the growing number of social media users worldwide, Cyber blackmail issue began to spread globally targeting all society segments.
The Information Technology Authority (ITA) strives relentlessly to eliminate cyber blackmail incidents in the Sultanate, either through continuing awareness programs throughout the year or dealing with all blackmail complaints received by the Oman CERT.
Although the global cybersecurity index indicates that the Sultanate is the first among Arab countries in the field of cyber security and third globally, the number of blackmail cases are constantly increasing. The blackmail threat exceeded the normal actions to having an organized groups targeting different segments, and that's what drew the attention of the governments in many countries of the world including the Sultanate to coordinate and cooperate with other countries in the cybersecurity field to address these attacks.
More than 269 blackmail incidents were registered in the Oman CERT since 2011 and 161 of which are in 2016 only.
Usually, the blackmail process begins by establishing friendly relationships with the targeted person through chat applications, especially those that allow exchange of photos and videos, and then the blackmailer tempts the targeted person and records talks that are offensive to the victim. Then, the blackmailer uses this content as a threat by requesting a transfer of money or disclosure of confidential data or doing things in violation of public ethics.
The Omani law defines blackmail as threatening and compelling a person to do any act or wrong doing against his/her will, with some form of punishment if he/she does not fulfill the request. As for penalties, the cybercrime law identified in the eighteenth article a period not less than one month and not more than three years and a fine of not less than one thousand RO and not more than three thousand RO or one of these penalties. The penalty shall be temporary imprisonment for not less than three years nor more than ten years and a fine of not less than three thousand RO and not exceeding ten thousand RO if the threat to commit a crime or breach of the attribution of moral turpitude.
All social media users are advised to have clear information about the proper use of these channels and how to protect themselves from being trapped in blackmail dilemma. They are also advised not to share any information or data or personal photos in the cyberspace, and do not log on to chat and share personal data, where others can access those images or information and then use them negatively.
Week passwords (PIN Codes) are easy to be hacked, especially in the social networks, such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Snapchat. Therefore, I advise everyone not to browse unreliable websites, where blackmailers track users and steal their personal data.
I also call on all those who being blackmailed first: don’t hesitate to report to the Oman CERT at Information Technology Authority. Second, don’t communicate with the blackmailer even when being exposed to extreme pressures and don’t transfer any money or disclose bank card numbers. Third, avoid any clashes with the blackmailer and don’t threaten him/her with the police but at the same time retain any email messages or any type of communication to be used as evidence at a later stage.
To report any blackmail cases or any other cyber security incidents, you can contact the Oman CERT through the hotline number: 24166828 during the office hours from 7:30 am to 14:30 or the email: firstname.lastname@example.org 24/7. Also you can report through the center website www.cert.gov.om.
Posted by Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi on October 17, 2016 |
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Arabic eContent Development: A Shared Responsibility
Have you ever tried to search for any information, image or a video in Arabic language but all in vain? How did it feel? We always seek help from the internet whenever we inquest for information or knowledge and we are taken by surprise every time the results appear fruitless. As the Arabic eContent existing in the internet compared to the eContent of other languages is very low, we tend to refer to other languages to gain knowledge. According to the 2012 ITU report on measuring Information Society, the existing Arabic eContent doesn’t exceed 3% from the overall eContent. Moreover, the total Arabic eContent in the Free Encyclopedia “Wikipedia” is about 0.82, that is less than 1%.
Arabic eContent refers to everything published in Arabic in the internet such as websites, webpages, personal blogs, pictures, videos, audio files or posts in social networks. Although the number of Arab users to the internet is increasing, the rise in Arabic eContent is relatively slow in a way that doesn’t fulfill our craving for knowledge. Nowadays, each one of us uses smart phones, tablets and computers to surf the internet daily or to write a post or a tweet or to publish a picture on the social media networks, but is all what we publish or write has value? Can anyone refer to it or make use of it?
To narrow this digital gap and to contribute in providing valuable Arabic eContent, ITA exerted several efforts, among which, the establishment of Sas for Entrepreneurship and Sas for Virtual Reality. Sas for Entrepreneurship was founded to nurture Omani youth talents and skills in making videos, graphic designs and multimedia in Arabic as well as managing IT startups which all contribute in Arabic eContent development. Additionally, Sas.VR seeks to be a regional hub contributes in eContent production and development in multimedia and virtual reality fields with Omani creativity and innovations.
We are also proud to have worked collaboratively with his Majesty’s advisor for economic planning affairs office to develop a website for the Sultan Qaboos Encyclopedia for Arab Names thus transforming its information from the library’s shelves into the digital world. This encyclopedia, which will be launched soon, is an outcome of a thorough and rigorous research conducted by more than 150 researchers and scholars from different Arab countries in different scientific fields including linguistic, social, historical, political and literary analysis. The Sultan Qaboos Encyclopedia for Arab Names, which includes over 7 billion Arab names along with their meanings will surely add a valuable source of information.
Within the same context, and With the aim of enriching the Omani eContent and to enhance the local tourism, ITA adopted Wilayati Competition to encourage Omani youth to develop a website and/or a mobile app for each Wilayat in the Sultanate. This includes all information about the wilayat either geographical or historical along with available services and tourist attractions.
Furthermore, the open street map competition which was announced last month is one of the ITA’s initiatives seeking to instill the digital voluntarism culture within Omani youth and to encourage them to share their knowledge and information related to a certain road or town using an open and free source licensed application. With the participation and cooperation of all, such information would be available to the public freely and openly and would develop the Omani eContent.
On top of that, a new Wikipedia Arabic eContent Development competition has been launched recently by the name of #Wiki_Oman targeting social media active users, bloggers, writers, and academics to contribute in writing rich articles to be added in the free encyclopedia and to help in making such articles available to the public. A single information or fact can lead and inspire others toward innovation and creativity.
Those mentioned efforts were only beginnings to contribute in the development and creation of meaningful eContent making it accessible to everyone searching for knowledge and information. Adding Omani/Arabic eContent is a form of voluntarism and a culture we aspire to spread in our community and with our cooperation, we can increase the Arabic/Omani eContent. Toward this aim, we encourage you to come up with individuals or collective ideas, initiatives to enhance the Arabic eContent to mark our positive imprint. All our communication channels either social media accounts, along with this blog, are open 24-7 welcoming all your suggestions, ideas and initiatives and we will spare no efforts in translating them to reality.
Posted by Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi on October 7, 2015 |
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“Shurkum” an openly interactive public platform!
Considering the Omani citizen as our key driver towards social development, we at Information Technology Authority (ITA) greatly value his ideas, opinions and suggestions and that we take them seriously for our strategic plans.
In order to ensure a transparent communication with the public, we have established official social media accounts which mark great interaction from the public in a daily basis. Due to the abundance of enquiries, comments and suggestions we receive through those channels, and in order to introduce the Omani citizen to ITA’s various role, initiatives, and projects in implementing eOman strategy and eGoverment, we decided to organize open discussion sessions virtually and physically with the public to discuss certain topics related to ICT field in Oman.
Such open discussion sessions are known by “Shurkum” inspired by “Alshura” principle where we invite all concerned and interested persons in ICT field as well as active social media users. All “Shurkum” discussion sessions are livestreamed in our official YouTube channel so that other viewers and attendees can interact and participate through the hash tag #Shurkum which was activated in the first session of Shurkum in all our official social media accounts.
The first discussion session of Shurkum series was launched in September 2015 which focused on discussing eTransformation plan which ITA started to implement in 2012 and highlighted its role in improving eServices in the Sultanate.
In this month, during our participation in Khareef Salalah 2015, one of the Shurkum discussion sessions was held and discussed ITA business plan for the following 5 years 2016-2020. A number of our social media followers, IT specialists and interested persons attended the session through which ITA management listened and received their opinions and suggestions to enhance 2016-2020 business plan giving space for more transparency and citizens participation. You can watch the full session through our YouTube channel on the following link:
I welcome all your feedback, comments or suggestions to improve Shurkum sessions or you may even suggest any topics to be discussed in our upcoming discussion sessions. You can write them here or through our social media channels and we will ensure addressing them as per your thoughts.
Posted by Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi on August 9, 2015 |
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Oman.. in the eyes of Technology
As the Sultanate celebrates the renaissance day, we extend our appreciate and gratitude to the leader behind Oman’s great nation, His Majesty Sultan Qaboos bin Said for that he has been the inspiring and visionary leader for all Omanis.
We, at the Information Technology Authority, are responsible to drive the wheel of the e.oman strategy and eGovernment in which we supervise the implementation of the national infrastructure projects and the ones related to nurturing the Information and Communication Technology, as well as the eTransformation plan of the government.
During the last 9 years, Oman eGovernment attained remarkable achievements at national and global levels. Oman was ranked as one of the leading countries in eGovernment in many occasions thanks to the enhanced national IT infrastructure and eServices projects and initiatives. By the adoption and implementation of eTransformation plan in 2012, ITA effectively managed to streamline government entities processes and procedures enabling them to deliver high quality eServices through the consultancy and support it provided.
In the past few months we have celebrated the first anniversary of Sas Center for Virtual Reality and the 2nd anniversary of Sas Programme for Entrepreneurship with great achievements being accomplished. The Sas Center for Virtual Reality was launched in April 2014 and the Sas Programme for Entrepreneurship was launched in March 2013. During the past two years, the Sas Programme for Entrepreneurship has incubated 19 companies and due to incubating these SMEs, 65 job opportunities have been provided for Omanis. The total revenue of these companies in the first year is 250,000 OMR and in the second year 524,000 OMR. Whereas Sas Center for Virtual Reality have trained 320 Omanis in the past year and out of these, 26 Omanis have established their own companies after the training. We believe that both centers immensely contribute to the strong foundation of Oman’s promising IT industry and that SMEs in ICT have finally got their proper set up.
ITA is, then, takes a great deal in contributing to the blessed journey of the Omani renaissance. Thus, this day is a shout out to all Omanis to work hard and take Oman to the next level.
Posted by Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi on July 27, 2015 |
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9 years of Excellence Reflected in Achievements
Established in 2006 by a Royal Decree, 31st May 2015 marks the 9th anniversary of the Information Technology Authority (ITA). We are proud of the achievements during these past 9 years, and are looking forward to a prosperous future for e.oman.
With the collaborative efforts of the Omani Youth in the Information Technology field as well as other fields, the ITA has adopted and launched a number of projects and initiatives towards achieving the e.oman strategy since its inception.
During the last 9 years, Oman eGovernment attained remarkable achievements at national and global levels. With all our employees exertions and the cooperation with government entities, Oman was ranked as one of the leading countries in eGovernment in many occasions thanks to the enhanced national IT infrastructure and eServices. By the adoption and implementation of eTransformation plan in 2012, ITA effectively managed to streamline government entities processes and procedures enabling them to deliver high quality eServices through the consultancy services and support it provided.
We can proudly declare that Oman now has a highly sophisticated effective e-payment gateway supporting e-commerce development and government payment services. We are also greatly thankful to the national IT training and awareness programs and initiatives which succeeded in making desirable impact on the society across the Sultanate by increasing the level of ICT awareness and capacity building.
Everyone at the Information Technology Authority is proud of the achievements made over these past 9 years, achievements that could not have been made without the collaboration and efforts of the government and private sector institutions, as well as the ongoing enthusiasm and support from the citizens of Oman for the projects and initiatives of the ITA. We will continue to build the capacity and capabilities of the ICT sector, and with continued collaboration we hope to support the development march of Oman in all fields under the wise leadership of HM Sultan Qaboos bin Said.
Posted by Dr. Salim Al Ruzaiqi on May 31, 2015 |
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