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In a significant stride against cybercrime, especially for ransomware, New Zealand police have joined a multinational effort that disrupted the ransomware group LockBit. Coordinated by the UK’s National Crime Agency (NCA), the operation dismantled LockBit’s infrastructure, resulting in arrests and indictments.

LockBit’s operations exploit vulnerabilities such as Remote Desktop Protocol (RDP) servers, phishing emails, weak passwords, and software vulnerabilities to gain initial network access. Once inside a network, LockBit encrypts data across all accessible systems and demands a ransom for decryption.

Ransomware attacks have been a significant threat to countries worldwide, with the United States historically being the most affected nation. However, recent reports indicate a shift in focus towards other countries. In 2022, the UK emerged as the second most attacked country, followed by Germany, Canada, and Italy. The various sectors have become prime targets for ransomware attacks, with a notable increase in attacks in this industry.

Government agencies have also been prime targets for ransomware attacks, with several high-profile incidents highlighting the vulnerability of government systems. These attacks can have far-reaching consequences, impacting national security and public trust in government institutions.

The ongoing issues can threaten national security and cause significant economic losses. Therefore, steps like those taken by the New Zealand police in dealing with the LockBit ransomware group are crucial. By participating in multinational efforts, New Zealand is committed to combating increasingly troubling cybercrime, highlighting the importance of international cooperation in addressing this global threat.

The operation’s success was underscored by the National Crime Agency’s (NCA) seizure of LockBit’s primary administration environment and its leak site on the dark web. Additionally, they obtained the source code of the LockBit platform and gathered a significant amount of intelligence from its systems. This enabled the U.S. Department of Justice to charge two defendants responsible for ransomware attacks using LockBit, now in custody and facing trial in the U.S. Indictments were also unsealed against two other individuals, Russian nationals, for conspiring to commit LockBit attacks.

Victims of LockBit attacks are being contacted locally, ensuring that they are informed and supported in dealing with the aftermath of these cybercrimes. The NCA’s director general, Graeme Biggar, emphasised that “as of today, LockBit are locked out,” indicating a significant blow to the ransomware group’s operations. This coordinated effort between international agencies demonstrates a strong commitment to combating cybercrime and protecting individuals and businesses from future attacks.

The European Union Agency for Law Enforcement Cooperation (Europol), which also participated in the operation, coordinated the takedown of 34 servers across several countries, including the Netherlands, Germany, Finland, France, Switzerland, Australia, the U.S., and the UK. The operation led to arrests in Poland and Ukraine at the request of French judicial authorities and the issuance of international arrest warrants and indictments by French and U.S. authorities.

The collaborative effort involved law enforcement agencies from 10 countries, including the FBI and the Australian Federal Police. The New Zealand Police were among the agencies that were thanked for their assistance, highlighting the global nature of cybercrime and the importance of international cooperation in combating it.

The operation against LockBit represents a significant success in the fight against cybercrime, demonstrating the effectiveness of international collaboration in disrupting and dismantling criminal networks operating in the digital realm.

Looking ahead, countries and law enforcement agencies must continue strengthening their cooperation and sharing best practices to combat cyber threats effectively. This includes enhancing cyber defence capabilities, investing in cybersecurity education and training, and promoting public-private partnerships to protect critical infrastructure and sensitive information from cyberattacks. As cybercriminals evolve and adapt their tactics, the international community must remain vigilant and proactive in addressing cyber threats to safeguard the digital future.

Since 2023, Indonesia has begun discussing the landscape of smart cities to be developed in the coming years. In this context, collaboration is vital in developing smart cities in Indonesia. With collaboration between the government, private sector, and society, smart cities can become more effective and sustainable. This collaboration can cover various fields, from information and communication technology to transportation and the environment.

The School of Electrical Engineering and Informatics, Bandung Institute of Technology (STEI ITB), is involved in developing smart cities in Indonesia through various research and innovations conducted by students and lecturers. This year, based on the OpenGov Asia previous report, the Smart City and Community Innovation Centre at the Bandung Institute of Technology (SCCIC ITB), in collaboration with the Islamic World Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organisation (ICESCO) – an organisation founded by 57 Muslim-majority countries in 1979 – has embarked on an event aimed at propelling the digital transformation and circular economy to new heights.

ITB continues to actively participate in the sustainability of implementing this Smart City. Through a recent seminar titled “Milestones Shaping AI: Ethical Considerations and AI in Smart Cities & Innovation” at the Science and Techno Park (STP) ITB, this educational institution has proven its commitment to promoting digital transformation and sustainable economics. In the seminar, ITB discussed ethical issues surrounding artificial intelligence (AI) and its application in smart cities and innovation.

The seminar was attended by experts and practitioners in the field of AI, including the Director of AI Development at Search Engine company, Alexander Krainov; VP Strategy at Search Engine company, Alexander Popovskiy; ITB Lecturer and SCCIC Researcher, Dr Fadhil Hidayat, ST, MT; and Director of Application Control, Ministry of Communication and Information (Kominfo), Teguh Arifiadi, SH, MH. The speakers discussed various essential aspects of the development and application of AI, especially in Indonesia.

Dr Fadhil Hidayat explained that generative AI is currently the latest trend in AI, and the Search Engine company has successfully implemented this technology in Russia. This success inspires the Indonesian nation to create similar developments in artificial intelligence in the homeland.

In the seminar, one of the speakers emphasised the importance of a deeper understanding of AI, not only as users but also as developers of the technology. This aligns with the challenges faced in applying AI, such as ethical issues and regulations.

Ethical considerations in the development and use of AI include principles and values that must be considered to ensure this technology’s responsible and safe use. This is important to ensure that AI does not harm its users.

Teguh Arifiadi, SH, MH, also provided insights regarding AI regulations in Indonesia and the challenges that must be addressed. Responsible and ethical AI development is crucial, including data privacy protection.

Dr Fadhil Hidayat also shared insights on the application of AI in smart cities, where this technology can be used to improve the quality of life for communities. Its application is sometimes complex but can start with simple things that can positively impact communities in smart cities. “AI-based services don’t have to be autonomous. For example, the scheduling is already AI-based when going to the hospital. When riding in a vehicle, the mirror is AI-based to see if we are sleepy. So, it doesn’t have to intervene with the steering wheel, but provide simple yet impactful responses,” he said.

Similarly, he said that the application of AI in city services can start with simple things but significantly impact smart city services.

However, this is not without risks, costs incurred, regulations, and cities’ readiness to operate sophisticated systems. “Another risk is that AI can give wrong responses. These are challenges. Therefore, we need to measure AI,” he said.

He envisions there will be follow-ups from the seminar. “Our target, of course, is to master this technology and have our products to make Indonesia smarter,” he said.

The application of AI in city services can also start with simple yet impactful steps towards the progress of innovative city services. However, the sustainability of AI implementation in the future will depend on various factors, such as the associated risks, costs to be incurred, applicable regulations, and the readiness of cities to operate advanced AI systems.

One of the risks that must be faced is the possibility of AI giving wrong responses, which can be a severe challenge to its implementation. Therefore, we need to be able to measure and manage these risks well when applying AI technology. “The goal is for Indonesia to master AI technology and develop local products that can enhance the smart cities in Indonesia,” Dr Fadhil concluded.

In a significant collaboration to revolutionise science education using technology, the CSIR-National Metallurgical Laboratory (CSIR-NML) partnered with the Knowledge and Awareness Mapping Platform (KAMP) to conduct a specialised online teacher training programme. This event saw the participation of over 150 educators representing diverse schools from across the nation.

Themed ‘Fostering Experiential Learning in Science Education, Beyond the Textbook’, the programme marked KAMP’s fifth Continuous Professional Development initiative tailored for teachers in partnership with CSIR-NML. Through comprehensive training sessions facilitated by subject matter experts, participating educators were immersed in various dimensions of science education.

The sessions were led by distinguished scientists from CSIR-NML, including Dr Sandip Ghosh Chowdhury, Dr K. Gopala Krishna, and Dr Animesh Jana. These experts provided invaluable insights into CSIR-NML’s core focus areas, spanning materials, minerals, and effective resource management at primary and secondary levels.

Going beyond conventional teaching methods, the discussions delved into innovative tools and strategies designed to enhance the learning experience. Smart teaching methodologies were emphasised, alongside the importance of experiential learning in cultivating a deeper understanding of scientific concepts. Through practical demonstrations and hands-on examples, educators gained invaluable insights into topics such as primary colours, electromagnetic induction and contactless electricity transport.

The programme fostered an interactive environment where teachers had the opportunity to engage with prestigious scientists and delve into cutting-edge research. Dr Chowdhury, Dr Krishna, and Dr Jana provided a comprehensive overview of CSIR-NML’s research endeavours, highlighting the institution’s commitment to advancing science and technology in India.

Mr. Aniket Arora, Outreach Coordinator at KAMP underscored the significance of experiential learning in fostering a deep interest and understanding of science among both teachers and students. Mr Arora also unveiled upcoming activities, including online Knowledge Sharing Sessions and Scientific Excursions, aimed at further enriching the learning journey for educators and students alike.

The collaboration between CSIR-NML and KAMP reflects a shared vision of advancing science education and empowering educators with cutting-edge pedagogical approaches. By equipping teachers with innovative tools and methodologies, the initiative seeks to create dynamic and engaging learning environments that inspire curiosity and critical thinking. Ultimately, the goal is to nurture a new generation of scientifically literate citizens poised to drive India’s future development and innovation.

With initiatives like the specialised online teacher training programme, CSIR-NML and KAMP are at the forefront of transforming science education in India, paving the way for a brighter and more prosperous future. Through collaboration, innovation, and a shared commitment to excellence, they are shaping the next generation of leaders, innovators, and problem-solvers who will drive India’s scientific and technological advancement on the global stage.

The integration of technology into education, known as smart education, brings considerable benefits but also raises cybersecurity challenges as educational institutions shift to digital platforms. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in virtual learning environments, posing threats like denial-of-service attacks, malware, and phishing. These potential threats necessitate comprehensive strategies to ensure the safety and security of educational institutions and their stakeholders.

The recent OpenGov Breakfast Insight in the Philippines explored how smart education encounters obstacles such as inadequate infrastructure and limited resources, alongside risks like data breaches and cyberbullying as institutions embrace digital platforms.

Cyber threats jeopardise an institution’s intellectual property, financial assets, reputation, and operational continuity, while also compromising the privacy, safety, and well-being of students, faculty, and staff. These challenges highlight the necessity for holistic strategies addressing both technological advancements and security concerns in the evolving educational landscape.

In the ever-evolving landscape of technology, two innovations, Virtual Reality (VR) and Augmented Reality (AR), have emerged as transformative tools shaping our digital experiences. Originating from visionary concepts to revolutionise human-computer interaction, these technologies have since evolved into powerful platforms with diverse real-world applications.

AR and VR technologies are poised to become integral components of our increasingly interconnected digital world, with the concept of the metaverse gaining prominence in recent times. In the Asia Pacific region, the market for AR/VR headsets is forecasted to expand significantly in the next five years, driven by a multitude of use cases.

Ng Kaijie, Director of Innovation at Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), highlights key factors accelerating the growth of AR/VR, including the advent of 5G technology. The introduction of 5G enables greater bandwidth and lower latencies, laying the groundwork for more immersive AR/VR experiences and quicker feedback loops.

As early as 2017, immersive media was identified by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) Singapore, as one of four key frontier technology focus areas (the other three are artificial intelligence and data science; cybersecurity; and Internet of Things and future communications infrastructure) for the development of digital economy.

While both AR and VR immerse users in digital experiences, they differ in their approaches. VR transports users to entirely virtual environments, enveloping them in immersive simulations, whereas AR overlays digital content onto the real world, enhancing users’ perception of their surroundings. This distinction enables VR to excel in gaming and simulation, while AR finds utility in education, navigation, and enhancing real-world interactions.

The real-world impact of VR and AR extends across various industries. VR has revolutionised gaming, healthcare, training and education, enabling immersive experiences and enhanced learning opportunities. AR, on the other hand, has transformed museums, tourism, and education, enriching cultural experiences and facilitating interactive learning.

Tan Tock Seng Hospital has launched MyCareVR, a virtual reality training platform designed to revolutionise medical staff education. Developed by the Center for Healthcare Innovation, this tool offers immersive learning experiences, initially focusing on 6S precision management training to optimise workflows and enhance patient care.

With MyCareVR, medical professionals can practice procedures in virtual environments, eliminating the need for traditional classroom setups and logistical challenges. The platform’s versatility extends beyond clinics, with plans to expand into scenarios like intensive care units and pharmacies, promising a comprehensive approach to medical training and skill development.

Airlines too have introduced VR-based training modules for flight students. The immersive VR experience helps students grasp airspace structures and landmark recognition, resulting in a performance improvement in real flight missions while reducing stress levels. This success highlights the potential of VR in pilot training, paving the way for future applications in flight, simulator, safety, and service training.

Immersive technologies are expected to be used across various industries, such as retail, architecture, construction, education, healthcare, and defence to improve processes, reduce costs and enhance outcomes.

As VR and AR technologies continue to advance, the future holds boundless possibilities. Innovations such as AR laptops and virtual keyboards demonstrate the evolving integration of these technologies into everyday life. With ongoing developments and investments from tech giants, VR and AR are poised to become integral components of our digital ecosystem, shaping the way we work, learn, and interact in the years to come.

Such cutting-edge developments represent not just technological innovations but gateways to new realities. As these technologies continue to evolve, their impact on society will be profound, ushering in an era of unprecedented digital experiences and opportunities for innovation.

The rapid adoption of technology in smart education brings significant advancements but also raises cybersecurity concerns as educational institutions transition to digital platforms. Cybercriminals exploit vulnerabilities in virtual learning environments, posing risks such as denial-of-service attacks, advanced malware, and phishing attempts.

Smart education in the Philippines faces hurdles like deficient infrastructure and limited resources, while also contending with risks such as data breaches and cyberbullying as educational institutions transition to digital platforms. These challenges underscore the need for comprehensive strategies to address both technological and security concerns in the evolving landscape of education.

Cyber threats pose significant risks to an institution’s intellectual capital, financial resources, reputation, and operational continuity. Additionally, they endanger the privacy, security, and well-being of students, teachers, and staff.

As a case in point, in 2021, the University of the Philippines (UP) disclosed a data breach that exposed the personal information of students, teachers, staff, and alumni, with hackers claiming access since 2018. The breach, coordinated by a local hacker group, exposed vulnerabilities in UP’s cybersecurity infrastructure.

Furthermore, the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) documented around 3,000 “high-level cyberattacks” from 2020 to 2022, with almost half targeting government agencies, emergency response teams, and educational institutions. This period also witnessed the observation of 54,000 cyber threats, highlighting the increasing cybersecurity concerns faced by various sectors in the country.

Amid the challenges faced by the education sector, AI emerges as a crucial strategy, providing vital tools to navigate the dynamic cybersecurity landscape. AI solutions offer adaptive capabilities essential for countering the evolving spectrum of cyber threats in educational environments.

The integration of AI in the education sector’s cybersecurity framework offers a paradigm shift in addressing evolving cyber threats. Its capacity to continuously analyse and adapt to emerging attack vectors offers a dynamic defence against potential risks.

Through machine learning algorithms, AI can detect real-time patterns and anomalies, enabling educational institutions to stay ahead of cyber threats, creating a robust and adaptable cybersecurity infrastructure.

Furthermore, leveraging AI in education cybersecurity not only enhances threat detection but also empowers institutions to establish proactive measures. This approach fosters a secure digital learning ecosystem tailored to the specific challenges of educational environments. It allows for a comprehensive defence strategy that goes beyond traditional cybersecurity methods, offering a forward-looking and efficient solution to safeguard sensitive data and ensure a secure online learning environment for students and staff alike.

By integrating physical hardware and cloud-based solutions, institutions can achieve a more comprehensive and efficient security posture for their assets and data. This unified approach facilitates cost-effective resource allocation, shared threat intelligence, and real-time monitoring and enhances scalability and flexibility.

The OpenGov Breakfast Insight on 27 February 2024 at Shangri-La the Fort Manila, explored the intricacies of the cybersecurity landscape within the education sector. This session allowed experts to engage in discussions, gain ideas, and explore solutions provided by Gen AI to tackle the issues.

Opening Remarks

Mohit Sagar∶ In the ever-evolving cybersecurity landscape, collaboration is crucial to share threat intelligence, best practices and resources effectively

Mohit Sagar, CEO and Editor-in-Chief of OpenGov Asia, acknowledges the dawn of a new digital education era, marked by transformative technologies. This shift brings about increased accessibility, engagement, and personalisation, as instant access to extensive information libraries breaks down traditional knowledge barriers, empowering educators and learners alike.

He stresses the importance of tailored learning through adaptive technologies, enhancing education to meet individual student needs and fostering dynamic skill development. This transformation extends beyond traditional classrooms and is particularly evident in the realm of remote learning, which is increasingly prevalent today.

Digital technologies play a multifaceted role in education, addressing not only student achievement but also various challenges involving multiple stakeholders. Interconnected factors influence the impact of these technologies on education, underscoring their pivotal role in driving ongoing digital transformation efforts.

“Even though digital technologies have brought revolutionary changes to education, it is crucial to approach and resolve persistent issues thoughtfully and strategically for a holistic and sustainable transformation,” Mohit believes.

Moreover, the expansion of digital technology and increased dependence on online platforms for administrative and instructional tasks have heightened the education sector’s vulnerability to the growing threats in the digital landscape.

Ransomware attacks, data breaches, and disruptions to online learning platforms are among the cyber threats that can jeopardise learning outcomes, compromise student data, and undermine fiscal integrity within educational institutions.

“We need solutions to address this challenge,” Mohit says. “We must urgently explore and implement robust strategies and technologies to safeguard educational institutions against cyber threats.”

Generative Artificial Intelligence (GenAI) represents a revolutionary approach to bolstering defences against cyber threats. By harnessing advanced algorithms, it offers a paradigm shift in cybersecurity, allowing educational institutions to anticipate and counter emerging threats in real-time, thereby fortifying their digital resilience.

In the rapidly evolving cybersecurity landscape, collaboration among government agencies, cybersecurity professionals, and educational institutions is paramount to effectively anticipate and address emerging risks. With threats constantly growing in sophistication, a unified approach is essential for sharing threat intelligence, implementing proactive security measures, and leveraging best practices and resources to stay ahead of bad actors.

Government agencies can play a pivotal role in creating a regulatory framework that fosters information sharing and ensures compliance with cybersecurity standards across educational institutions. Cybersecurity professionals, equipped with their expertise, can contribute by developing and implementing robust security protocols. Simultaneously, educational institutions can actively engage in this collaborative effort by fostering a culture of cybersecurity awareness and preparedness among students, faculty, and staff.

“This collective approach can create a resilient defence against cyber threats, ultimately safeguarding the integrity of educational systems and the privacy of sensitive information,” Mohit concluded. “By implementing an end-to-end security strategy, educational establishments not only safeguard their digital resources but also establish a dependable and robust environment that promotes a secure and comfortable learning environment for all.”

Welcome Address 

Vincent Wu∶ Generative AI helps the education sector to be more proactive in facing increasingly complex cybersecurity threats

Vincent Wu, Security Business Development Manager, Asia Pacific at Lenovo, expressed deep appreciation to the attendees who gathered at the OpenGov Breakfast Insight to gain insights into cybersecurity in the education sector. He highlighted the significance of their presence as a positive step towards better understanding the cybersecurity challenges educational institutions face.

In the current online or hybrid education landscape, Vincent emphasised the need for heightened awareness of cybersecurity risks among educators, students, and administrative staff. “Students, faculty, and staff in remote/hybrid learning environments are at heightened risk for phishing scams and other unsafe online behaviour,” he addressed.

To address these challenges, Vincent outlined key steps educational institutions can take before integrating technology into their education systems. First, he emphasised the importance of investing in cybersecurity training for educators and administrative staff to enhance their cybersecurity literacy. Additionally, he recommended the implementation of cutting-edge security technologies, including advanced threat detection systems and adaptive preventive measures, such as Generative AI.

“Generative AI helps the education sector to be more proactive in facing increasingly complex cybersecurity threats,” Vincent Wu explained. He elaborated that this technology can automatically identify unusual patterns and potential threats, enabling faster and more effective responses to attacks. By implementing Generative AI, educational institutions can leverage artificial intelligence to optimise their security defences.

In this context, Vincent emphasised and appreciated the significant steps taken by the Philippines in managing cybersecurity risks by adopting Generative AI technology. He stated that Generative AI is an effective tool in maintaining the integrity and security of data in the education sector.

“The proactive approach of the Philippines in integrating Generative AI aligns with the global necessity for innovative solutions to combat the evolving landscape of cyber threats,” he expressed. As educational institutions increasingly become prime targets for cyberattacks due to the wealth of sensitive information they hold, the strategic adoption of cutting-edge technologies like Generative AI becomes paramount.

Vincent commended the Philippines for setting a commendable example in prioritising cybersecurity measures beyond conventional approaches, contributing significantly to the resilience and safeguarding of the education sector.

Vincent Wu delved into the technological landscape, shedding light on Lenovo Commercial Vantage as a pivotal tool in device management. This innovative platform offers users a central portal for efficiently managing hardware settings and setting preferences and serves as a valuable resource for staying updated on system enhancements.

Further, Vincent emphasised the significance of Lenovo DaaS Managed Absolute in providing end-to-end device management with utmost efficiency and flexibility. This approach ensures a streamlined and comprehensive strategy for handling devices across educational institutions, contributing to a seamless and secure digital learning environment.

Vincent stressed that the demand for hybrid learning technology remains paramount even as more students return to on-campus learning. He predicted a surge in the widespread adoption of collaboration software. He foresees its continued prominence as faculty, students, and staff navigate the evolving landscape of the borderless campus of the future. This shift toward collaborative tools necessitates a mature and robust security infrastructure to safeguard sensitive information and ensure the seamless flow of communication in the digital education ecosystem.

“I believe by doing it, the education sector can proactively shape a resilient and future-ready learning environment that leverages technology for enhanced collaboration and knowledge dissemination,” he concluded.

Technology Insight

Sharon Maraguinot∶ Lenovo is committed to continuous improvement and adaptation, ensuring its technology remains at the forefront of cybersecurity resilience

As a leading technology company specialising in designing, manufacturing, and marketing a diverse range of consumer electronics, personal computers, software, business solutions, and related services, it has actively adapted to the dynamic landscape of cybersecurity. In a rapidly evolving technological environment, the significance of cybersecurity has become increasingly pronounced, and Lenovo has been at the forefront of addressing these challenges.

Sharon Maraguinot, who served as a Key Account Manager for Education and Government at Lenovo, highlighted the company’s commitment to staying abreast of the latest developments in cybersecurity. As education sectors are often prime targets for cyber threats due to the sensitive nature of the data they handle, Lenovo recognises the critical need for robust cybersecurity measures.

Maraguinot emphasised that Lenovo’s approach involves providing cutting-edge technology solutions and actively engaging stakeholders to promote cybersecurity awareness and best practices. Lenovo has implemented comprehensive strategies, integrating advanced technologies and innovative solutions. This includes leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to enhance threat detection capabilities, ensuring a proactive defence against evolving cyber threats.

The Lenovo EDU integrates hardware, software, and services to offer a holistic learning experience. “We meticulously design our array of Lenovo EDU devices to endure accidental knocks, drops, and spills, ensuring durability in the classroom environment,” she elaborated.

Additionally, the keyboards are securely anchored to withstand attempts by curious students to pry them apart, further enhancing the longevity and reliability of the educational devices. With Lenovo EDU, educators and students can confidently engage in immersive learning experiences without concerns about device durability or functionality.

Lenovo strongly emphasises developing its devices to stay ahead of emerging threats. Maraguinot expressed Lenovo’s commitment to continuous improvement and adaptation, ensuring its technology remains at the forefront of cybersecurity resilience.

“As technology evolves, Lenovo remains dedicated to transparency and accountability. The company actively engages with its user community, seeking feedback and insights to enhance security features and address emerging concerns,” she explained.

Further, Maraguinot stressed the importance of collaborative efforts between technology providers, educational institutions, and government agencies to create a holistic cybersecurity framework. “We cannot overlook the collaboration and inclusivity needed in cybersecurity,” she explained.

By this far, Lenovo has actively advocated for cybersecurity education and training programmes. Recognising that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility, the company has supported initiatives to enhance the digital literacy of educators, students, and administrators.

Maraguinot emphasised the importance of an open dialogue between technology providers and end-users to foster a shared responsibility in maintaining a secure digital environment. “Lenovo’s multifaceted approach to cybersecurity reflects its unwavering commitment to not only deliver cutting-edge technology but also actively contribute to a secure digital future,” she concluded.

Knowledge Insight

Ike Amigo ∶ Updating cybersecurity policies and procedures, ensuring the university’s defence layers against various attacks

Ike Amigo, Far Eastern University’s Chief Information Officer, highlights how the integration of Generative AI enhances cybersecurity and fosters research and innovation at the institution. Far Eastern University is dedicated to advancing its cybersecurity measures, implementing sophisticated network security systems and regularly updating software to bolster its defences.

“Far Eastern University realises that cybersecurity challenges continue to evolve, and we are ready to adapt and take proactive steps to address them,” shares Amigo. “We are committed to continuously improving our cybersecurity as an integral part of our efforts to protect sensitive student and staff data and maintain the smooth operation of the institution.”

Amigo understands that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility across the entire university community, not solely the responsibility of the IT team. He believes that through improved awareness and collaborative efforts, they can effectively maintain a safe and secure digital environment.

To achieve this goal, the university is taking intentional steps, including investing in advanced IT security infrastructure, providing regular training for staff and students on digital security practices, and implementing strict policies related to access management and software usage.

“We realise that the education sector is highly vulnerable to cyber threats, such as phishing, commonly used by attackers to steal sensitive information through manipulation and social engineering,” elaborates Amigo. “Therefore, we continue to enhance our efforts to educate students, staff, and faculty on identifying and avoiding phishing attacks.”

Far Eastern University has actively updated its cybersecurity policies and procedures to ensure the university has strong defence layers against various attacks. They consider it important to continuously update and strengthen their security systems in line with technological developments and existing threats.

The implementation of Generative AI at Far Eastern University is yet more proof of its proactive approach to bolstering its cybersecurity measures. By leveraging Generative AI to analyse past attack patterns and anticipate future threats, the university can fortify its defence mechanisms and respond more effectively to cyber threats, preemptively mitigating potential risks before they materialise.

Amigo emphasised Far Eastern University’s commitment to fostering a secure and innovative learning environment through a sustainable, collaborative approach, ensuring the safety and advancement of its academic community.

“We are committed to keeping up with the latest developments in cybersecurity and implementing cutting-edge technology to protect our learning environment from evolving threats,” he says. “Educational institutions like ours must stay ahead of the curve in cybersecurity. The rapid pace of technological advancement brings both opportunities and challenges, and we must remain vigilant in safeguarding our digital assets and the privacy of our students and staff.”

Closing Remarks

Sharon Maraguinot extended her utmost appreciation for the timely session, which successfully brought together panellists and delegates to exchange ideas and concepts for strengthening cybersecurity in the education sector through Generative AI.

“The dynamic theme of this meeting demonstrates the importance of collaboration among educational institutions, industries, and governments in facing increasingly complex cybersecurity challenges,” said Sharon. “Generative AI has great potential to change the paradigm in protecting our digital infrastructure, and today’s discussion has paved the way for closer cooperation in effectively implementing this technology.”

To effectively combat cyber threats, she acknowledges it is imperative to continuously enhance collaboration across different sectors. This entails fostering partnerships between industries, governments, and academia to share expertise, resources, and insights. Additionally, leveraging the latest research and innovations in cybersecurity is crucial to stay ahead of evolving threats and ensuring robust defence mechanisms are in place.

Recent cyberattacks have been quite unexpected, especially targeting the education sector. These challenges demand us to continuously enhance awareness and security at all levels, from information technology infrastructure to individual awareness of cyber threats.

Investing in comprehensive cybersecurity training and education across all members of the educational community is paramount. By fostering increased awareness and interdisciplinary collaboration, the education sector can bolster its resilience against the growing threat of sophisticated cyber attacks, safeguarding its digital infrastructure and data integrity.

Strong collaboration between the private, public, and academic sectors is essential in developing innovative and effective solutions to counter cyber threats. Only through shared commitment and coordinated efforts can the integrity and security of digital infrastructure be ensured.

“Only by working together and continually developing adaptive strategies can we ensure that the education sector remains a safe and protected environment for all stakeholders,” she knows.

Mohit emphasises the significance of events like today’s in spotlighting the necessity of integrating Generative AI into the education sector’s security framework. Such forums provide valuable opportunities for stakeholders across different sectors to converge, exchange insights, and explore the potential advantages of this technology in tackling the ever-growing complexities of cybersecurity challenges.

Open and timely discussions enable participants to gain deeper insights into how Generative AI can be strategically implemented to safeguard digital infrastructure in the education sector. As a result, awareness regarding the significance of adopting this technology can be heightened among stakeholders, encompassing educational institutions, technology industries, and governmental bodies.

“Today’s discussion has underscored the crucial need for collaboration in addressing cybersecurity challenges in education. Generative AI offers significant potential, and our dialogue paves the way for closer cooperation,” Mohit concludes. “Moving forward, enhancing collaboration, leveraging research, and fostering awareness are essential for safeguarding our education sector against cyber threats.”

Singapore and Malaysia have joined forces to boost telecommunications security, signing a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to enhance cooperation in tackling this pervasive issue. The agreement, inked by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC), underscores the shared commitment of both nations to combat scams that transcend borders.

Chief Executive of IMDA, Mr Lew Chuen Hong (left) and Chairman of MCMC, Tan Sri Mohamad Salim bin Fateh Din (right), Image credits: IMDA

Recognising scams as a cross-border challenge, Singapore and Malaysia, as close neighbours, have pledged to work together to address this issue effectively. The partnership builds upon existing collaborations between the two countries, including joint enforcement actions against scammers, positioning Malaysia as a pivotal ally for Singapore in fostering regional cooperation.

Mr Lew Chuen Hong, Chief Executive of IMDA, and Tan Sri Mohamad Salim bin Fateh Din, Chairman of MCMC, formalised the MoU, which focuses on bolstering the exchange of strategic intelligence to combat scams across telecommunications channels. This coordinated effort aims to better safeguard citizens from falling victim to fraudulent activities. Key areas of cooperation outlined in the MoU include providing regulatory assistance, facilitating research and education, and promoting the exchange of knowledge and expertise through training programmes and staff exchanges.

The MoU with MCMC represents another significant milestone in strengthening international partnerships to combat telecommunications scams. By leveraging collective expertise and resources, Singapore and Malaysia are poised to mitigate the threat posed by fraudulent activities, ensuring the security and well-being of their citizens in an increasingly interconnected world.

IMDA’s proactive approach to addressing scams on a global scale is evident through its previous collaborations with other countries such as New Zealand, the United States and Australia.

In October 2023, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) of Singapore and the United States Federal Communications Commission (FCC) entered into a MoU aimed at bolstering collaborative efforts to combat unsolicited and unlawful communications, particularly scams.

This strategic partnership seeks to enhance regulatory enforcement activities and facilitate the exchange of vital information on regulatory frameworks and technological solutions to effectively address the growing threat of scams. Led by Mr Lew Chuen Hong and Ms Jessica Rosenworcel, Chairwoman of the FCC, the MoU underscores the importance of international cooperation in preserving trust in the digital realm and reaffirms the commitment of both nations to safeguarding their citizens and businesses from fraudulent activities.

Earlier in September 2023, IMDA and the New Zealand Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) established a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) to enhance cooperation in combating scams and spam. The MOA underscores the shared commitment of both nations to combatting global challenges posed by scam and spam communications.

Signed by Ms Aileen Chia, Deputy Chief Executive of IMDA and Mr Paul James, Chief Executive of DIA, the MoA aims to facilitate information exchanges on scam trends, regulatory solutions, public education, and joint projects to strengthen anti-scam measures.

Mr Paul James emphasised the MoA’s role in fostering research, knowledge exchange, and understanding of legal approaches between the two countries, highlighting Singapore’s significance as a digital economy partner for New Zealand.

Ms. Aileen Chia echoed the sentiment, underlining the importance of international collaboration in tackling scams and spam as global threats, while acknowledging the MoA’s role in enhancing Singapore’s capabilities and promoting unity among regulators with shared objectives.

Such collaborations, which acknowledge the global scope of scams and spam, empower the countries to enhance the protection of their citizens. It reflects their proactive stance in safeguarding their populace and its overarching strategy of bolstering global alliances to effectively tackle emerging digital risk

Thailand’s healthcare sector is undergoing an unprecedented transformation, particularly in the realm of digital health technology, which is revolutionising healthcare delivery. The country’s digital health industry is experiencing exponential growth, characterised by the widespread adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) in diagnostics, the emergence of smart hospitals, and the development of digital mental health platforms. At the forefront of these advancements is Khon Kaen University, a renowned educational institution in Thailand that is driving innovation and improving healthcare delivery nationwide.

Image credits: kku.ac.th

One of the contemporary developments in this sector is the introduction of “BiTNet,” an AI innovation unveiled by Khon Kaen University on the AI Platform. This cutting-edge technology has the potential to revolutionise healthcare by analysing ultrasound images to address the challenges associated with Cholangiocarcinoma, a type of cancer that affects the bile ducts in the liver.

Developed by a team of dedicated researchers at Khon Kaen University in collaboration with the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute and the Faculty of Sciences, “BiTNet” represents a significant leap forward in the fight against Cholangiocarcinoma and other abnormalities of the upper abdomen. Led by experts such as Prof Dr Nittaya Chamadol, MD, Prof Dr Wallop Laopaiboon, MD, Asst Prof Dr Arunnit Boonrod, MD, Asst Prof Tanapong Intara, PhD, Dr Prem Jansawang, Asst Prof Anchalee Techasen, PhD, and Asst Prof Dr Atthapon Titapan, MD, this AI technology promises to revolutionise the early detection and diagnosis of Cholangiocarcinoma.

Prof Monchai Duangchinda, PhD, Vice President for Research and Graduate Study at Khon Kaen University, has expressed the university’s commitment to becoming a “World Leading Research and Development University.” This commitment is evident in the university’s focus on research and innovation aimed at benefiting the community and advancing global societal development.

Khon Kaen University has long been aware of the prevalence of liver fluke disease and Cholangiocarcinoma in Thailand and the Mekong Sub-region. As a result, the university has provided strong support to the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute in its efforts to conduct research studies and develop innovative solutions to these pressing health challenges.

Assoc Prof Watcharin Loilom, PhD, Acting Director of the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute, has emphasised the importance of collaborative academic efforts in driving innovations to combat liver fluke disease and Cholangiocarcinoma. By bringing together experts from various fields, the institute has been able to develop comprehensive solutions to these complex health problems.

Asst Prof Tanapong Intara, PhD, from the Department of Statistics, Faculty of Sciences, has provided insights into the unique capabilities of BiTNet. This state-of-the-art AI platform is trained to analyse ultrasound images showing abnormalities in the upper abdomen, enabling it to identify individuals at risk of Cholangiocarcinoma. By reducing the workload of radiologists by 35% and improving the accuracy of medical diagnoses by 12%, BiTNet represents a significant advancement in the early detection and diagnosis of Cholangiocarcinoma. With an impressive 96% accuracy rate in diagnosing patients at risk of Cholangiocarcinoma, BiTNet is poised to revolutionise healthcare.

Prof Dr Nittaya Chamadol, MD, an expert in radiology from the Department of Radiology, Faculty of Medicine, Khon Kaen University, has emphasised the importance of early detection in improving treatment outcomes and survival rates for Cholangiocarcinoma patients. By utilising ultrasound surveillance, the first stage of Cholangiocarcinoma can be diagnosed with an impressive 80% accuracy rate. The development of AI technology for ultrasound imaging of the upper abdomen represents a significant breakthrough in the early detection and treatment of Cholangiocarcinoma.

Asst Prof Angkana Boonyued, PhD, Dean of the Faculty of Sciences, has highlighted the university’s commitment to supporting research and innovation that benefits society. The Faculty of Sciences has collaborated closely with the Cholangiocarcinoma Research Institute to develop BiTNet, leveraging the expertise of specialised personnel in AI and computer vision to contribute to this innovation.

Thailand’s commitment to enhancing healthcare delivery and outcomes is clearly demonstrated by its policies aimed at improving healthcare access and its vision to establish itself as a hub for wellness and medical services by 2025. “BiTNet” is at the forefront of driving positive change and innovation for the betterment of society, exemplifying Thailand’s commitment to advancing healthcare.

In his address at the inaugural session of the “International Patient Safety Conference 2024” in Bengaluru, Union Minister Dr Jitendra Singh highlighted the transformative impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on clinical medicine. With a focus on the urgent need for integration between traditional healthcare methods and emerging technologies, Dr Singh emphasised the critical role of collaboration within and beyond the healthcare sector.

Image credits: Press Information Bureau

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the importance of integrating various healthcare streams. India’s traditional medicinal practices gained global recognition for their immunity-boosting properties during the pandemic, highlighting the value of integrating traditional and modern medical approaches.

In today’s healthcare landscape, the convergence of allopathic medicine with complementary practices like AYUSH (Ayurveda, Yoga & Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy) is essential to achieve holistic health goals. The need for a synergistic approach that leverages the strengths of different medical traditions to deliver optimal patient outcomes is what is needed.

In India, healthcare has gained unprecedented attention, with a particular emphasis on digital health initiatives. The government strongly advocates for digital health, underscoring its commitment to leveraging technology for healthcare advancement.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is rapidly revolutionising clinical medicine, offering unprecedented opportunities to enhance patient care. In this context, the importance of optimising integration between existing healthcare practices and the latest technological tools cannot be understated. This integration is vital not only within the healthcare domain but also across public and private sectors, as well as among diverse medical systems.

The integration of AI and other emerging technologies with traditional healthcare practices represents a paradigm shift in patient care. As the healthcare landscape continues to evolve, collaboration and integration efforts will be critical to realising the full potential of AI in improving patient outcomes and advancing healthcare delivery.

To realise the full potential of AI in healthcare, there is a pressing need for robust public-private collaboration. Good examples of such alliances are interdisciplinary courses in biosciences, which encourage collaboration between academic disciplines and industry partners to drive innovation in patient care.

Initiatives like the Anusandhan National Research Foundation aim to accelerate scientific research through public-private partnerships. The role of such initiatives in catalysing innovation and driving progress in healthcare and other scientific domains is vital.

Moreover, India’s burgeoning startup ecosystem in biotechnology reflects the country’s commitment to fostering innovation-driven growth. The significant growth in biotech and other medical startups signals a shift towards a more innovative and inclusive healthcare ecosystem.

OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Electronics and Information Technology (MeitY) of India, in collaboration with leading global technology corporations, has embarked on the iMPEL-AI programme. This joint initiative aims to accelerate the growth of Indian startups in artificial intelligence, empowering them to develop solutions with both domestic and global impact.

Minister Rajeev Chandrasekhar highlighted the partnership, which aligns with the vision set forth by the Indian Prime Minister during discussions with tech giant leaders. This partnership reflects a shared commitment to fostering impactful collaborations in AI and emerging technologies, with a focus on nurturing startups across various regions of India.

At the launch event, Minister Chandrasekhar underscored the importance of partnerships in driving innovation within India’s thriving tech ecosystem. The iMPEL-AI programme, facilitated by the participating tech companies, aims to identify and support AI talent, particularly in critical sectors such as Healthcare, Financial Inclusion, Sustainability, Education, Agriculture, and Smart Cities.

The programme aims to offer AI skilling opportunities to over 11,000 innovators, startups, and young Indians nationwide. Through the company’s Learning Management System, participants will have access to globally recognised certifications, enhancing their employability and opening up new career avenues in the dynamic field of AI.

The Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur (IIT-Kanpur) and a private player are working together to launch a centre of excellence (CoE) for electronics manufacturing and skills development at IIT-Kanpur.

Image credit: Indian Institute of Technology Kanpur

The centre aims to encourage research and development collaboration while offering advanced learning opportunities through IIT-Kanpur’s educational programmes. It will boast state-of-the-art technology, including a fully automated Surface Mount Technology (SMT) Line.

This partnership signals a significant step forward in integrating industry and academia, fostering pioneering research, technological breakthroughs, and skill enhancement in electronics manufacturing.

As stated by IIT-Kanpur Director, S. Ganesh, the centre represents a significant milestone in the institute’s dedication to nurturing collaborations between industry and academia. It aims to provide unmatched technological expertise to students and stakeholders alike.

The centre will serve as a platform for collaborative research, knowledge sharing, and skill development, cultivating an environment that fosters innovation and technological advancements. This partnership underscores the institute’s dedication to advancing socio-economic development through pioneering research and collaboration with industry, he said.

The CoE will be operational by August 2024 at the IIT-Kanpur campus. It will contribute to IIT-Kanpur’s course curriculum support, offer advanced certification programmes for industry professionals, and function as a site for new product introductions (NPI) for startups and small enterprises. Furthermore, the centre will facilitate advancements in semiconductor technologies, embedded systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), and artificial intelligence (AI), converting manufacturing concepts into tangible outcomes.

As part of the collaboration, the private entity will provide technical expertise and grant access to its advanced facilities for joint projects with IIT-Kanpur. This collaboration aims to create an ecosystem conducive to innovation, nurturing the growth of state-of-the-art technologies with practical applications.

An official from the private company noted that by partnering with IIT-Kanpur, they are leveraging the combined expertise of academia and industry to drive technological advancements and influence the future of the electronics industry.

To encourage skill development in the digital age, last year, IIT-Kanpur introduced a professional certification programme focusing on AI and machine learning (ML). The curriculum includes a range of technologies including NLTK, Matplotlib, Scikit-learn, Flask, OpenCV, E 2, Midjourney, Kubernetes, and Django.

As OpenGov Asia reported, the course curriculum comprises several essential components, including an introductory session for a professional certification course in AI and ML, foundational studies in mathematics and crucial statistics, and a programming review session. It also explores applied data science using Python, core courses in ML, an in-depth exploration of deep learning with Keras and TensorFlow, and an introduction to the essentials of GenAI, prompt engineering, and ChatGPT.

The programme features live masterclasses led by IIT-Kanpur faculty, providing students with opportunities to refine their skills through over 25 hands-on projects and the choice of their preferred capstone projects. Additionally, regular classes are conducted by esteemed industry experts to aid students in enhancing their resumes.

Moreover, students will gain from mock interview sessions tailored to enhance their ability to tackle demanding technical inquiries effectively. Upon completion of the course, participants will receive a certificate of achievement from the Electronics and ICT Academy at IIT-Kanpur.

IIT-Kanpur provides an extensive array of courses that cover emerging technologies, computer sciences, entrepreneurship, business, and various other disciplines. These meticulously crafted courses are instructed by industry experts possessing extensive experience and profound knowledge in their respective fields, ensuring a high-quality learning experience for students.

At the heart of Singapore’s digital transformation lies the Smart Nation initiative, where the convergence of technology and society revolutionises the way people work, live, and play. This vision encompasses a Digital Government, Digital Economy, and Digital Society, each leveraging technology to drive transformation across healthcare, transportation, urban development, government services, and businesses.

Central to this initiative is the Ministry of Manpower’s (MOM) commitment to safeguarding the well-being of citizens and employees. Through sustained efforts, MOM aims to sustain wage growth, improve workplace conditions for vulnerable workers, and foster a culture of fairness and progressiveness in workplaces.

With a vision of cultivating a great workforce and workplace, MOM strives to ensure that Singaporeans have access to fulfilling careers, financial security, and safe working environments. MOM’s commitment to enabling Singaporeans to achieve financial security and peace of mind for retirement extends to prioritising the health, safety, and well-being of workers across all sectors.

In today’s dynamic work environment, prioritising the safety and well-being of employees is paramount, and embracing technological advancements is essential. As it navigates the digital era, the integration of digital tools and platforms is intrinsic to MOM’s strategies.

Image / video credits: Ministry of Manpower

With the advent of digital technology, there are innovative solutions that empower individuals to play an active role in creating safer workplaces. SnapSAFE is one such platform, revolutionising the way workplace safety and health (WSH) violations are reported and addressed.

SnapSAFE serves as a reporting platform that enables individuals to report unsafe workplace practices directly to the Ministry of Manpower (MOM). Whether you’re a concerned member of the public or an employee witnessing hazardous situations, SnapSAFE provides a simple and efficient way to raise awareness and take action.

The importance of reporting unsafe practices cannot be overstated – it saves lives. By promptly reporting violations to MOM, individuals can prevent accidents and injuries, ultimately contributing to the overall safety culture within workplaces. Whether it’s observing unsafe work practices, hazardous conditions, or being subjected to unsafe working environments, SnapSAFE empowers users to take proactive measures towards safety.

For workers, SnapSAFE offers a direct channel to report concerns to supervisors or management, ensuring that safety protocols are upheld and hazards are addressed promptly. By fostering a culture of accountability and transparency, SnapSAFE not only protects individual workers but also cultivates safer environments for all.

Maintaining confidentiality is paramount in the reporting process. SnapSAFE ensures that the identity of the reporter remains confidential, safeguarding individuals from potential repercussions. MOM carefully assesses each report, taking appropriate actions to address safety lapses, which may include fines, warnings, or advisory measures.

The digital nature of SnapSAFE streamlines the reporting process, allowing users to submit reports with ease. Through the platform, individuals can provide detailed information, including photos, descriptions, locations, and relevant company details. MOM utilises this information for thorough investigations, leveraging digital resources to enhance regulatory efforts.

Furthermore, SnapSAFE aligns with the National Workplace Safety and Health (WSH) Campaign’s theme of “Reporting Saves Lives.” By promoting awareness and education, the platform empowers both workers and the public to make meaningful contributions to workplace safety. MOM and the WSH Council provide guides and resources to support individuals in understanding the reporting process and its impact on safety initiatives.

As Singapore continues to strive towards its Smart Nation vision, MOM remains steadfast in its dedication to creating a conducive environment where individuals can thrive, innovate, and contribute to Singapore’s success story. Together, with a shared commitment to digital transformation and workplace safety, Singaporeans can unlock the full potential of the nation’s future.


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