International business and best security systems for UAE
The proposal is for the use of IMSI catcher or sniffer by police departments to log target imsi and imei in order to track down criminals. This is because the IMSI Catcher that is essentially a fake base station can be crucial in collecting data on the user’s permanent identity. It can detect and tap unlawful phone conversation between criminals. Recent research has however revealed that although IMSI catchers are mostly used by agencies that enforce law to capture various dialogues and messages, their use has also been detected among businesses who wish to spy on each other.
The implications of this to international business are grave; especially since the leakage of sensitive information, concerning the inner strategies and plans in international businesses has the potential of shifting the business environment. As such, the element of security such as data encryption has received greater attention, not just in the United Arab Emirates, but also globally. In addition, criminals to extort businesses can use IMSI catchers. However, when utilized by state and police authorities, these devices are very useful for the tracking and capture of criminals. The special aspect about IMSI catchers, especially concerning international business is that it allows for the identification of the International Mobile Subscriber Identity (IMSI), which would enable the tracking of criminals by state and police authorities.
This paper will reveal that in order for the United Arab Emirates to improve on its surveillance and security issues, the IMSI catcher would be a most helpful tool for use by the police department to not only track down criminals, but to reduce the security implications of their ‘would be’ crimes. This will be based on the global environment with the facilitation of international business providing the rationale for this argument
Strobel (2007, pp. 1) defines an IMSI catcher as a device used for tracking and tapping the users of mobile phone devices in such a way that both the users and network operators do not notice a thing. The Germans designed the first IMSI catcher in the late 1990s by Rohde and Schwarz, and it was initially used for subscriber identification (Strobel, 2007, pp. 13). The GA 900, which was the successor of the GA 090, however came in with a new functionality; that of tapping outgoing phone calls (Strobel, 2007, pp. 13).
An IMSI catcher disguises itself as a base station to a mobile station allowing for what has often come to be referred as ‘man in the middle’ attacks (Strobel, 2007, pp. 13). Mobile phones are designed to attempt to optimize their reception and thus choose the base stations that are accessible and with the strongest signal. An IMSI catcher thus masquerades as a base station, allowing network operators to log in (Strobel, 2007, pp. 13).
The insecurity concerns in the global economy have led to the acceptance of IMSI catchers. As Strobel (2007, pp. 17) explains, September 2011 terrorist attacks in the United States led to increased efforts to prevent the occurrence of terrorist attacks, among other avenues, the assignment of IMSI catchers. The IMSI catcher 100i was introduced after the terror attack, the following year, which allowed police officers to identify both the IMSI and the IMEI of devices in situations of urgent suspicions legally (Strobel, 2007, pp. 17).
Gallagher (2012,) explains that law enforcement agencies are able to slip these devices for the purposes of voice calls and text message interceptions, as well as for criminal activities as well. According to Gallagher (2012), such cases have been noted in Europe with the use of these devices being on the rise, but not by law enforcement authorities. The uses range from extortion to spying of businesses (Gallagher, 2012).
The use of IMSI catchers has been subject to various views. As Gallagher (2012) explains many view the use of IMSI catchers are very controversial whether police officers or criminals use them. Gallagher (2012) explains that it is the opinion of some that the use of IMSI catchers by institution such as the Federal Bureau of Investigation in unconstitutional and it contravenes the fourth amendment rights, which prohibits “unreasonable” search and seizure.
Civil Rights agency groups have also joined the move to demand that the United States authorities become more transparent on issues regarding to mobile phone tracking and surveillance (Gallagher, 2012). This further illuminates the fact that most civil liberty groups are against the use of such gadgets. Privacy International in London is another example of such groups, and this group has taken upon itself to track all users of these devices and technology through the IMSI catcher (Gallagher, 2012). The implications for business owners across the globe are that their information is no longer safe, which means investing heavily into data security and counteractive measures to prevent the risk of leakages of confidential information. Proponents of this technology however perceive the short as well as long-term benefits to reduce the crime rate through the facilitation of surveillance activities on suspects and the interception of their communication, as well as the control of terrorist activities.
One of the factors that impede the development and participation of international business, however, is terrorism and terrorist threats. As Knight and Czintoka (2008, pp. 2) explain, terrorism poses severe risks to the international activities of a business. Johnston and Nedelescu (2005, pp. 3) in support of this point note financial institution in the international business environment can be victims of terrorist acts either directly or indirectly, and can be used to further the activities of terrorist groups. Knight and Czintoka (2008, pp. 3) explain that the implications of terrorism are more dire for international business since such activities are directed against international businesses far much more than other targets. Knight and Czintoka (2008, pp. 5) note that terrorist groups communicate efficiently with the help of modern communication systems such as international telephony and the internet which is not easily detectable. This presents a great avenue for the use of tapping devices for intercepting such communications between terrorist group, threats and risks against international business.
An article by Robert Elliot in the October issue of Security management has revealed that the western governments have singled out Dubai as a probable target for terrorist acts (2013). Dubai, which is one of the largest in the United Arab Emirates and among the fastest growing, has been singled out, and resultantly travels to the country have been warned against (Elliot, 2013). Foreigners have been advised to stay away from public places, which include restaurants and hotels, and with the large population of foreigners in Dubai, the risk has been identified to be huge (Elliot, 2013). This undermines the business activities of firms in the United Arab Emirates, both local and international, and creates tension, which may very well easily discourage investments in the United Arab Emirates. Although this risk has been thwarted by some experts as unlikely based on its alleged use for the laundering of money used for terrorist activities, warnings by western countries still hold serious weight with regards to international business activities, especially those dependent on the region’s position as a tourist attraction (Elliot, 2013). These include restaurants, hotels, shopping malls, and entertainment ventures owned locally as well as by international business entities.
The development of the best security systems in thus important, especially to maintain strong bilateral ties between the United States and the United Arab Emirates, and to guarantee ample security measures are in place to facilitate international businesses in the United Arab Emirates and the safety of foreigners in the country. The Global Security Network (GSN) is based in the United Arabs Emirates, but French owned and has in over ten decades provided and delivered international security projects in the Middle East (ISS, 2013). The use of IMEI Catchers by police officers would thus not only allow for the detection and tapping of conversation between possible terrorist groups, but would also allow for the detection of those who use IMEI catchers illegally to gain confidential business information or to extort businesses. As Gallagher (2012) explains, an IMSI catcher is in development, which facilitates the capture of individuals who operate IMSI catchers illegally within a given location. With the increasing need for security among businesses with the growth of technology and such aspects as cloud computing becoming more accepted, the protection of company data from snoopers and hackers is just as important as the protection of international businesses from the threats and risks of terrorism.
An article in Hispanic Business Inc. states that one of the growing threats to UAE firms is cyber-crime (Arabian Business, 2013).The Abu Dhabi police have raised this issue to business owners making them aware of the increasing attacks by international hackers and dissuading them from sending confidential information through personal email account (Arabian Business, 2013). One of the most pressing tasks of the Abu Dhabi police has to find avenues to combat cyber crime, as the Middle East has been among the most active regions in cyber crime (Arabian Business, 2013). Concerning activities of fraud, terrorism, and extortion, the IMEI catcher is particularly useful as it allows for the determination of a suspects or criminal’s phone number, which is utilized to facilitate further surveillance (Skingsley, 2013). The ability of the device to both’ intercept’ and decode actual information , and is able to intercept even secure networks such as UMTS which may enable for the decoding of conversations between terrorist groups, which would thus impair the communication channels of these groups and the efficiency with which they currently enjoy (Skingsley, 2013).
Of concern though, is that most modern police forces in areas where the threat of terrorism and cybercrimes due to their large populations is rife do not possess these gadgets owing to the degree of secrecy around these gadgets (Gallagher, 2012). Gallagher (2012) also explains that these devices cost hundreds of thousands of dollars for police grade versions and as such many police agencies will have very few if any. Considering that tech savvy criminals on the other hand can design their own IMEI catchers for very reduced costs, the need for the possession of IMEI catchers by police officers is definitely an issue that warrants a greater attention especially in large and highly populated cities such as Dubai (Gallagher, 2012).
Arguably, regions such as Dubai and other in the United Arab Emirates due to their large number of foreigners and their impressive fame and growth might fall victim to terrorist acts. Furthermore, the rising rate of cyber crime warrants an evaluation of suitable security systems to be implemented. Besides the environmental survey and the vulnerability of the United Arab Emirates to cyber attacks and terrorism, issues of governance, strategy, organization and performance may also come into question. According to the World Economic Forum (2007, pp. 9), UAE in order to combat the threat of domestic terrorism maintains a great level of surveillance and security. Security issues have also been identified as diverting the focus of the government away from substantial institution building and power division, which undermines the overall efficiency of leadership and governance (World Economic Forum, 2007, pp. 10).
The strategic approach into the identification of a way around some of these issues, rest within the empowerment of the police. Keeping in mind that cyber threats and terrorism are some of the main issues affecting security in the United Arab Emirates and international business in the region for that matter, interventions aimed at empowering the police to respond and avert such risks would go a long way. The helplessness of the Arabian police in combating cyber crime affecting international business is evident. According to Arabian Business (2013), the Abu Dhabi police are involved in raising awareness, but not exactly in reducing the threat. Awareness is a function, which can better be achieved through government media broadcasting, not by the police department.
The Arabian Business (2013) proceeds to note that cyber-attacks have resulted in great losses, such as the attack on Saudi Aramco, the leading national oil company of Saudi Arabia, the theft of forty-five million dollars from Bank Muscat and National Bank of Ras Al Khaimah representing the ‘largest ever bank heists’ and others. It is important to note that the use of guns by criminals is slowly being phasing out, in favor of the internet and computers in UAE, and it warrants that police departments become vigilant themselves on how to detect such threats and prevent them. IMSI catchers can thus be used to log target imsi and imei in order to be used in incidents to track down criminals. This will however, not it itself prevent the occurrence of cyber-attacks because the IMSI catchers are designed to access phone networks which do not need authentication while internet access does. Greater surveillance is, however in line with the security measures proposed for the United Arab Emirates, and these gadgets can greatly facilitate this. A great deal of crimes by organized groups is through mobile phones, including terrorist groups though. Strategies for the creation of a better business environment thus should consider the adoption of IMEI sniffers for all devices that use a sim card over mobile phone networks, including mobile phones, tablets, ipads and modems.
Issues and Problems with the IMSI Catcher
There are however, various issues and problems associated with the use of IMSI catchers as a means of combating crime. This are besides the pressures from civil leadership groups who view the use of such gadgets as unconstitutional. Security experts have noted that IMSI catchers are of no use if your location is unknown because these devices have to be close by so that your phone can log on to them (Skingsley, 2013). In order to achieve greater effectiveness, these devices need to reach the suspects without their knowledge. Goodin (2013) however, notes that next generation spyware include body suits which are won, and capture the ‘unique identifier’ of cell phones. In various strategies such as this one, there would thus be a need to implement them to facilitate the capture of such information more easily.
Skingsley (2013) also explains that for the IMSI catcher to be effective, the phone must be on and thus switching off the phone would liberate a criminal from efforts to track him via his phone. One more issue is that the IMSI catcher can not be able to monitor conversations if the phone already connects to a network and the target is in ‘mid conversation’ (Skingsley, 2013). Concerning the use of this gadget by police authorities, Toby Skingsley has identified a number of issues as explained below.
For instance, if the device is utilized by the state of police authorities for the monitoring of illegal activities, the device captures information from all mobile phone users in the vicinity which have logged on to it and thus presents the problem of filtering the information that is not needed (Skingsley, 2013). Skingsley (2013) also explains that the IMSI catcher or sniffer may result to interruption in network traffic and disturbances, which may last between ten to twenty minutes because the device is not a base station in itself, but a masquerading base station. Skingsley (2013) proceeds to note that an additional problem of using IMSI catchers is that the rise in surveillance has resulted in the monitoring of increasing numbers of innocent people in connection with criminal activities, and although laws in place dictate that such subjects should be notified, this is at times overlooked thus brewing legal implications. The interception of information varies in terms of validity from country to country, and thus travelers must be vigilant and aware of this fact when travelling, because unsuspecting travelers might fall victim to this interception (Skingsley, 2013).
Technology implementation and adoption is greatly determined by its necessity. With special emphasis on the United Arab Emirates, its growth in terms of financial growth, coupled with its large population of foreigners and investments from foreigners seeking to participate in international business necessitates the presence of utmost security and security systems. The argument of this paper is not to scrap away the existing security systems in the region, but to the contrary, this paper seeks to prove that the United Arab Emirates’ security can greatly be enhanced through the strengthening of its police force by the use of IMSI catchers to facilitate surveillance and security.
This technology however, has various problems and limitations. For instance, these devices are costly and require essential planning to facilitate the training of the police officers on how to use these devices efficiently and effectively if the benefits are to be realized. Besides the cost of purchase and the cost of training, various issues and problems exist with these devices. However, since the early 1990s when the first device was designed until today, various functions have been added to these devices to make them even more useful. Thus, these issues are just but bugs, which need to be fixed. An exploration of the United States shows the need for legal foundation to be set in place to reduce the pressures arising from issues of controversy and constitutional rights. This rests upon the government, which should adapt the most suitable approach to introducing this technology. The global environment has suffered from terrorist activities and criminal activities from organized gangs and terrorist groups, which have diverted investments from some regions and undermined the activities of businesses operating abroad. The growth of cyber threats also warrants the use of measures that are not counterproductive, but rather suited to the problem. Technology based threats warrant technology based solutions.
In order to strengthen the security of the UAE and to reduce the risk of criminal activities which disrupt international business, police officers need to be armed with tools that assist them to combat crime more effectively, and tools that facilitate greater surveillance and logging of required information to reduce the occurrence of such criminal activities.
Today, organized groups who communicate via mobile phones since they are cheap, untraceable, and disposable commit some of the worst crimes. This is during a time when the threat of terrorism has been heightened and the state of security in the global economy gaining increasing focus. Recently, in the nation of Kenya, a shopping mall was the venue of a terrorist attack, with reports suggesting that these criminals used mobile phones to communicate. The targeted victims were mainly foreigners, and the building targeted belonged to an Israeli citizen. It is thus clear that terrorist groups are increasingly targeting foreigners and large cities. From the use of mobile phones to detonate bombs, to its use for destructive communication, it is also evident that mobile phones are an avenue for monitoring of criminal activities that may escalate to terrorism. Then United Arabs Emirates relies on its high security to facilitate and engage in trade activities with its allies and as such conduct international business. The rising level of insecurity in the United Arabs Emirates is not conducive for business with foreigners warned to stay vigil. Thus, surveillance is a critical element of this security and the facilitation of international business. The government has taken many steps to improve its security including the training and contracting of specialists aimed at combating cyber crimes and increasing surveillance. One of the underutilized assets however is the police department. If devices such as the IMSI catcher were introduced, the police department would be able to facilitate greater surveillance and provide manpower for both the tracking, and the acquisition of criminals in carefully planned avenues. This would also free the government to focus on issues of leadership and governance, and to strengthen ties with their allies and business partners in the global economy.
Arabian Business. 2013. Cyber crime a growing threat to UAE firms. Hispanic Business Inc. Available at:<http://www.hispanicbusiness.com/2013/9/16/cyber_crime_a_growing_threat_to.htm> [Accessed 13 October 2013]
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Skingsley, T. 2013. Monitoring mobile calls: the IMSI catcher. World Guide. [Online] Available at: <http://www.worldguide.eu/wg/index.php?StoryID=338&ArticleID=13171&ChapterID=3> [Accessed 13 October 2013]
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