Wednesday, February 27, 2013

CYBER TERROR: WHY WE SHOULD ACT NOW - Ramon Ram

The coming General Election will be Malaysia's first "social media election", said Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak. The Prime Minister said that this was because politicians were already using social media networks to engage with the people online. (The Star Online)
THE advent of an information age and resurgence of terrorism across the globe has world leaders reshuffling counter-terrorism efforts to match recent threats of “Cyber-terrorism”. 
Unfortunately, not much is being done in Malaysia despite recent events which have revealed the coun­­­try’s cyber security vulnerability. Take for instance the incident early this year where unknown hacker(s) altered the contents of the Information Department’s official website. 
This was not the only incident. Two other incidents were reported in 2011, one where a notorious hacker group (Anonymous) took credit for hacking 50 government websites in response to the Govern­ment’s efforts to block major online file sharing entity (Pirate Bay) and an open source whistleblower website (Wikileaks), and the other was when a group of unknown hackers (believed to be angered fans) defaced the Malaysian Football Association (FAM) website to show their discontent over the hike in ticket prices. 
There was minimal response from the national cyber security agencies in these events and there was no reported apprehension nor were there reports of ongoing investigations. As these were not catastrophic attacks per se, it is naïve to think that such attacks will not evolve over time. Such attacks hold specific appeal on a cost benefit analysis and weighs towards maximum amplification of catastrophic damage compared with classical attempts to cause chaos.
With the continuous evolution and sophistication of cyber weaponry, it is worrying to see the future of this country darkened by continuous threats of such incidents. The National Cyber Security Policy which was reformed in 2006 after a study by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry has been cited as the primary defence against cyber threats in the country. 
Even though policy drivers have taken action in enforcing the provisions of each separate thrust, it is still not fulfilling its primary objective, which is to protect Malaysia’s cyber environment from current and imminent threats. According to MyCERT which is a cyber-response and research centre established by Cyber Security Malay-sia, the number of cyber incidents are continuously rising every year. 
The threats are now at an alarming level as significant growth has been observed in both volume and sophistication of cyber attacks, with Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) and system intrusions appearing more rampant than ever. This, along with recent implication of terrorist activity concerning Malaysians on national soil and foreign constituencies, will only increase the country’s exposure to such threats. 
If matters are to be let loose by authorities at this pivotal moment, continuous reliance on interconnected networks may even lead to the prospect of devastating hybrid attacks which include the combination of both cyber and physical attacks that amplifies damage. ( The Star Online)

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