CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM) has had a splendid fiscal year, winning many different awards including OpenGov’s Recognition of Excellence award. They have taken numerous initiatives in ensuring safe cyberspace. We spoke to Dato’ Dr Amirudin, Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of CSM to gain insight into how they have gained their traction in the tech-industry in Malaysia.
The 2018 Cybersecurity Index by ITU has named Malaysia the third most cyber secure nation in the world. CSM had a big role to play in achieving this. They have rolled out many initiatives in the past year to ensure that Malaysia’s networks are safeguarded.
Dr Amirudin highlighted that while cybersecurity tools can always be upgraded to keep up with the changing technical landscapes, they are not sufficient in protecting entire companies and networks from cybersecurity threats.
Cyber criminals these days are becoming even more devious and undetectable. They wreak havoc with catastrophic consequences for businesses. A large-sized organization in Malaysia can possibly incur an economic loss of US$22.8 million from cyberattacks. This amount is set to increase exponentially as technology continues to advance.
The best way to keep pace with the security threats from the rapid advancements of technology is to deploy modern adaptive cybersecurity solutions that are able to utilise predictive detection techniques.
Dr Amirudin highlighted that while technical cybersecurity tools can provide temporary protection from immediate and potent attacks, they are not a sustainable means of protecting entire networks from the perennially evolving cybersecurity threats.
Organisations need to be fortified from within. To do this, they have to ensure that the three main elements are impregnable. These three elements are: People, Processes and Technology.
The weakest link in the security chain is still the “people”. Insider threats account for nearly 84% of cybersecurity breaches in organisations. Studies have shown that people underestimate the rate at which technology evolves, causing them to have the false belief that they are already resilient to cyberattacks.
This is one of the reasons why Cyber Security Malaysia came up with the CyberSAFE programme. This is an awareness, programme aiming to raise awareness about the technical issues that internet users face. The programme aims to reach out to people of all walks of life including, school children, adults, working adults and even teachers.
The programme has had a stellar success rate especially when it comes to reaching out to children as they are the most vulnerable to cyberattacks. Courses have been conducted to educate both children as well as their school teachers to ensure that they are not only aware but have knowledge of how to react when faced with a cyberattack. Over 230 100 students have attended the CyberSAFE programme.
Despite their incredible penetration rate, CSM is continuing to look for ways to make the programme more holistic. The programme is conducted in many different ways and through many different platforms to capture interest and make it more attractive.
Since the CyberSAFE programme is a preventive measure aimed at protecting digital citizens from cyberattacks, it has to be interesting and engaging so that people retain the message of what has been taught. CSM is, therefore, working on ways that they can achieve this retention rate.
The Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) is collaborating with a communications service provider in Malaysia to promote corporate innovation among businesses in Malaysia, from start-ups or large corporations, to stimulate the ecosystem and spur the country’s digital economy.
The partnership was formalised with both parties signing a Memorandum of Understanding detailing the framework for its cooperation. Through the year-long collaboration, the parties will jointly develop mentorships and programmes to provide coaching to start-ups and corporates embarking on their digital transformation journeys.
Additionally, both parties will facilitate events and engagements that will foster a conducive environment for networking and collaboration between start-ups as well as larger corporations to generate business leads for the industry and accelerate corporate innovation.
The Chief Executive Officer of the leading converged solutions provider in Malaysia stated that, in this challenging and increasingly competitive business environment, the company firmly believes that innovation will be a key success factor in re-evaluating business models and digital transformation strategies.
Their collaboration with MDEC is, therefore, an important one as it allows the firm to collectively provide the right tools, support, and resources, to bring together the best of technologies to help businesses to always be ahead in a changing world. The parties will further explore and co-create initiatives to fuel corporate innovation in Malaysia.
Meanwhile, MDEC’s CEO lauded the firm’s proactive stance in supporting organisations to take the digital leap and heighten their readiness for IR4.0. She further encouraged Malaysia-based MNCs to join the effort to build the nation’s digital ecosystem and support local digitally-empowered businesses to grow globally.
The company possess market knowledge, resources, established networks, and the validation that all businesses aspire to attain; tech start-ups possess the agility and novel ideas that corporations value, she said. MDEC aims to harness these complementary strengths to both advance the nation’s digital agenda and foster the creation of local deep-tech solutions that could shape the way the most pressing global issues are solved.
As the first of their joint initiatives, the two parties will be launching a digital Design Thinking workshop for MDEC’s corporate partners in October 2020. The two-week workshop aims to promote the use of Design Thinking as a methodology to deeply understand problem statements of companies and challenge assumptions in an attempt to solve them creatively and innovatively.
According to another article, MDEC and Malaysia’s leading communications provider have a new history of innovative partnerships. The two have been collaborating on several fronts since 2019, with a shared goal of accelerating the digitalisation of the businesses in Malaysia in line with the Government’s digital economy agenda.
Some of the telecom’s key initiatives include the ecosystem development of IoT in May 2019, which saw the launching of the firm’s immensely popular IoT Challenge and the launch of its second installation on 4 September.
MDEC was also a key partner for the firm’s Market Access Day, the largest pitching session that provided a platform for 100 start-ups to showcase their ideas to approximately 70 of Malaysia’s leading corporates, venture capitalists and angel investors, for business matching and networking opportunities.
Recently, the firm was identified as a Technology Solutions Provider by MDEC for the SME Digitalisation Grant under Budget 2020, which enabled Maxis to offer the widest range of connectivity and digital solutions to help SMEs achieve their digitalisation aspirations.
Meanwhile, through its flagship community programme, eKelas, the company is currently working with MDEC to repurpose the latter’s STEM content and develop learning videos for eKelas students. Concurrently, it is supporting MDEC’s various initiatives under its #mydigitalmaker movement via content sharing and capacity building in Computer Science.
An American multinational developer of analytics software has committed to up-skill a minimum of 500 students in analytics across Malaysia by the end of 2020, in response to increased demand for data science expertise. Under the banner of the firm’s Software Certified Young Professionals (SCYP), the program will collaborate with the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC) to help drive the adoption of emerging technologies across the country.
Central to such efforts will be enabling students to work towards the certification in programming, machine learning and visual analytics through e-learning courses, supported by access to online communities and webinars.
The Managing Director of Malaysia at the firm stated that the company has a deep-rooted history in academia. Launching a program to empower Malaysian students with the firm’s analytics knowledge and expertise helps in answering the rising demand for technology professionals in Southeast Asia.
Business organisations need people who can make sense of data, manage and analyse it, build models and determine what information delivers the most value. Students with an analytical skillset will be highly sought after.
Once students have completed the e-learning courses and attended the associated webinars, a certification exam will follow before connections with SAS customers seeking young data science professionals.
Within Southeast Asia, “free or heavily subsidised” online courses are available to undergraduate, postgraduate and PhD students who are enrolled at a university, business school or university college in Malaysia, Indonesia or Vietnam. There are currently three courses available for students in Malaysia and Vietnam, and five courses on offer in Indonesia, spanning data analytics, statistics, machine learning and virtualisation.
The CEO of MDEC stated that the agency’s strategic partnership with the software company aligns perfectly with its commitment to ensuring delivery of technology relevant programmes to Malaysian students and help Malaysians make the digital leap into the era of the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
The agency sees its public-private partnership initiatives such as the tech firm contributing to Malaysia’s overall growth of the data science skills required in the workforce to support the digitally-driven economy, which is also critical to meet the demand of the current and future job market.
Growing demand for tech professionals
OpenGov Asia earlier reported that Malaysians with niche skills in technology have far brighter prospects in 2020 as many sectors are hiring in their push forward with digitalisation. A Malaysia-based consultancy’s 2020 salary survey revealed that job opportunities and higher pay were expected for those in mid to high-level management positions in eight sectors.
Talents with niche skills who are changing jobs, on the other hand, are looking at an increment of up to 30 per cent due to demand outstripping supply, the firm’s Country Manager for Malaysia said in a statement accompanying the survey report.
The survey also encouraged as employers may be more open to hiring job seekers with the necessary tech skills but who may have less industry experience.
Moreover, as Malaysia invests more into its technological infrastructure, the more it will see tech talent flooding into the nation, thereby growing its digital economy and pushing forward its Industry 4.0 goals.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) announced that a strategic partnership has been forged with the National Sports Institute (ISN) to help improve the diet of Malaysian athletes through the development of a mobile application, iDiet Score.
The IDiet Score is a mobile application was designed to help athletes and active individuals monitor their food intake through menu plans devised using Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Going forward the application can be developed is one of the products developed by UKM scholars that can be commercialised relatively soon. It is hoped that the project will wrap up development in December 2020 and then the next grant (which is a marketing grant for commercialisation) can begin to be discussed.
The ceremony was officiated by the Minister of Youth and Sports. Also present was the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Student Affairs at UKM.
Approximately 50 ISN athletes were involved in research which focused on endurance, rhythmic, strength and other active individuals. These active individuals included people who went routinely to fitness centres or gyms and who were keen on clearly defining their needs. While the application was created with athletes in mind, any tier of active individual can download the app.
A total of eight UKM researchers were involved in the project, six from the Faculty of Health Sciences and two from the Faculty of Technology and Information Science, while two were from ISN. The iDiet Score application was developed by the UKM Information Technology Center appointed as a vendor.
The ISN Chief Executive Officer stated that as a national sports institute, ISN is continually seeking to expand its strategic networks and collaborations holistically through collaborations with various domestic and foreign entities including government and private agencies.
He noted that ISN officially has entered into cooperation through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with four public universities, namely IIUM, UPM, UKM and UTM. These collaborations will see cooperation in the fields of services, research, sports science, innovation, sports medicine and commercialisation in various fields that are the core business of ISN. The agency is ready to build a balanced relationship with more strategic partners collectively in the future.
According to another article, the National Sports Institute of Malaysia (ISN) and Futurise Sdn Bhd (Futurise) signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) aimed at developing a regulatory framework within the sports market for sports technology and advancements that can potentially allow a new ecosystem to be established.
Futurise is a company under the Ministry of Finance that focuses on innovation, regulation and commercialisation. In collaboration with ISN, the company aims to ensure that there is a continuous effort in developing regulatory frameworks for sports be it the sports technological improvements, new guidelines or policy issues.
There is a huge prospect in the sports market that can be transformed into a potentially lucrative ecosystem in Malaysia, with technological advances, the Futurise CEO stated.
The MOU will see the two parties identify and explore potential collaboration towards building a sustainable business model and pilot innovative solutions within the sports technology space. While Futurise, through the National Regulatory Sandbox (NRS), will work on exploring innovation-friendly regulatory approaches for emerging solutions and business models developed by ISN partners and ecosystem participants, ISN will be looking towards providing expertise in the area of R&D with regards to sports technology and innovation. Currently, Futurise is in a preliminary discussion with one of ISN’s partners to address their regulatory issues.
The Futurise CEO concluded that the sports industry is incredibly diverse. Very shortly, the Malaysian sports market has the opportunity to be an ecosystem that will fuel new markets that attract investors looking to enter the sports investment landscape. The firm aims to contribute to the strengthening of technology innovation in sports for Malaysia and we look forward towards a fruitful partnership with ISN.
The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has launched a campaign to review and remove malware nationwide this year. It aims to enhance the country’s network security.
The campaign intends to reduce the malicious code infection rate by 50%. It also aims to cut the number of Vietnamese IP addresses in ten popular botnets – a collection of internet-connected devices infected by malware that allow hackers to control them – in half.
The National Digital Transformation Program, approved by Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc in early June 2020, notes that ensuring network safety and security is key to digital transformation. All IT equipment, products, software, information systems, and investment projects have mandatory components on network safety and security. The ministry has clarified cyber safety and security as aprerequisite for e-government development and digital transformation.
According to security firms, malware infection in Vietnam has decreased but remains high when compared to other countries. Statistics showed that the country has about 16 million IPv4 addresses, of which about three million IP addresses are regularly blacklisted by many international organisations, while two million IP addresses are regularly found in botnets.
The campaign will allow people to use malware prevention software for free. A representative from the ministry’s Department of Information Security said the campaign is for businesses and home network systems and equipment. The group accounts for most of the IP addresses. The campaign would also contribute to improving the country’s reliability in e-transactions, thus promoting socio-economic development and contribute to ensuring national defence and security.
The department would work with VNPT, Viettel, CMC, FPT, BKAV, and Kaspersky to implement the campaign. The project would assess ten major botnets that need to be treated with priority, build, and deploy tools on a large scale, whereby users get free downloads to inspect and remove malicious code from their computers.
After the campaign, the department will evaluate results and plan future campaigns accordingly. The campaign has been implemented in all provinces and cities from the local to the central level, through specialised IT units of ministries, branches and localities, state groups and corporations, and commercial banks and financial institutions.
Additionally, it has received support from organisations, corporations, and major security firms such as Kaspersky, Group-IB, FireEye, F-Secure, and ESET. The campaign has been implemented gradually. The ministry hopes it will achieve positive results, contributing to clean malware from Vietnam’s cyberspace. This will help ensure safety for transactions of agencies and enterprises, as the country is accelerating digital transformation towards the development of digital government, digital economy, and digital society.
In August this year, the Department of Information Security recorded 517 cyberattacks on information systems (199 phishing cases, 160 deface attacks and 158 malware attacks), falling 0.77% over the previous month. The number of Vietnamese IP addresses in botnet networks is over 2 million, a decrease of 0.03% compared to July. The number of recorded cyberattacks, warnings, and the number of botnet IP addresses showed a slight decrease in the last three months.
The decrease was due to the department continuing to strengthen the recording, warnings, and instructions on information security. However, cyber attackers have still taken advantage of concerns about the pandemic to increase the spread of malicious code. The number of IP botnets compared to the same period last year was still at a high level. To ensure network security, the department will strengthen the monitoring and active scanning of the country’s cyberspace.
The government is planning to create a National Cyber Security Strategy 2020 for a safe, secured, and resilient cyberspace. The National Security Adviser, Ajit Doval, recently announced the project at c0c0n, a two-day virtual international conference on hacking and cybersecurity.
The event was organised by the Kerala Police, the Society for the Policing of Cyberspace, and the Information Security and Research Association. Doval noted that the proposed strategy aims to bring the country’s cybersecurity agencies together to secure, strengthen, and synergise the cybersecurity ecosystem by closely working with businesses and citizens.
According to a news report, he explained that the country witnessed threats to exploit the recent pandemic in the form of misinformation, fake news, and social media campaigns. Data in the cyberspace is a goldmine to extract information, undermine the privacy of citizens, and make India’s critical information infrastructure vulnerable to misuse.
He said that phishing campaigns use the COVID-19 pandemic to target financial, defense, and critical infrastructure. Around 5,000 malicious domains and websites were registered in a short period. There has been a 500% increase in cybercrime, owing to people’s limited awareness and poor cyber hygiene. Financial frauds have also increased tremendously owing to the increased reliance on digital payment platforms.
According to a recent report, e-wallets will continue to play a key role in its growth with the continuous increase in both frequency and user base. By 2025, wallets are expected to have higher penetration and lower-income would eventually drive multiple small-ticket transactions.
Digital payments are expected to grow over three-fold to IN₹ 7,092 trillion (around US$ 96 billion) by 2025, on account of government policies around financial inclusion and the growing digitisation of merchants. Mobile payments will drive around 3.5% of total digital payments by the financial year 2025, up from the current 1%. The total mobile payment users who currently stand at about 162 million would reach around 800 million during this period, the report stated.
The lack of indigenously-developed digital solutions like data-sharing facilities and social media platforms have adversely affected the nation’s self-reliance and cybersecurity, Doval added. He urged start-ups to create solutions in line with the country’s requirements and build capacity to ensure that the critical cyber assets are manned by skillful, native professionals.
IT players in the country should focus on research and development, which could lead to the creation of intellectual properties and development of Indian products, capable of competing globally
In 2019, India released a Digital India Compendium in which it outlined the government’s cybersecurity initiatives. As OpenGov Asia reported, it included the National Cyber Coordination Centre, which generates macroscopic views of cybersecurity breaches and cybersecurity threats in the country. The centre scans the cyberspace in the country at a metadata level and generates near real-time situational awareness.
Furthermore, the country launched the Cyber Swachhta Kendra, which provides free tools and security best practices to citizens. It helps users to safely carry out digital payments and secure their personal computers, broadband routers, and mobile phones.
The centre operates in collaboration with internet service providers (ISPs), antivirus companies, and academia to facilitate productive interactions in terms of guidance and communication between the government and the public. It also provides a free bot removal tool, various security tools, security best practices, and information to users to secure their systems and devices while spreading cybersecurity awareness.
A new make-in-Vietnam tool, provided by the National Cyber Security Monitoring Centre (NCSC), can decrypt and identify ransomware and check for malicious files.
The technology, available on an official website, will help individuals, institutions, and businesses ensure their safety in a cyber environment. A press release stated that recent research found that the number of ransomware attacks in Vietnam has decreased but is still high. The country ranks eighth in the world in the number of ransomware-attacked computers. Cybersecurity experts have also repeatedly warned of the appearance of new types of ransomware.
NCSC experts noted that malware and ransomware prevent users from accessing and using the data inside the servers, or computers in general. Attackers will require a ransom from victims in exchange for the right to access the data. However, in many cases, even if the victims pay money, they cannot get back the data.
To help users reduce the risks of ransomware, NCSC has introduced a solution to recognise ransomware. Users can find decryption tools through file extensions or by uploading encrypted files for identification. After finding the results, users should read the instructions for use before downloading and running the tools, the release explained.
The tool for checking malicious files provided by NCSC allows users to check the safety of suspicious files they receive through emails, social networks, or other peripheral devices such as USBs. The tool helps analyse files that are often exploited to carry out attacks such as files with extensions .docx, .xlsx, .pdf, .rar, and .zip (10Mb at maximum).
Users can upload suspicious unknown files or find in NCSC’s database the hashtag codes of the files. After that, the system will analyse the files and provide results on whether the files have malicious code or not.
NCSC experts stated that all the uploaded files will be encrypted after the analyses and erased after a certain time, which ensures users’ privacy. Prior to that, in mid-April, NCSC launched a website that provides technical solutions to help organisations ensure information safety when working remotely.
At that time, on the website, NCSC provided four free tools to support information security: checking botnets, phishing websites, personal account information leaks, and email spoofing attacks. The centre also has documents with the basic requirements of technical features and requirements for configuration settings, offering basic instructions for organisations and individuals working remotely. Based on these requirements, organisations can create plans to ensure safe operations.
The number of ransomware attacks on small and medium businesses’ computers in Southeast Asia decreased from 1.4 million in H1 2019 to 0.5 million in H1 2020.
Recently, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) announced it requested the Prime Minister to clearly define the responsibilities of the heads of mobile network operators that allow ‘trash’ SIM cards to circulate in the market.
The Telecommunications Authority, under MIC, in 2019 told the ministry’s inspectors and local departments to join forces with the police to conduct a large-scale inspection of the management of mobile subscribers across the country in a plan to deal with telecom waste.
Inspectors examined 140 branches belonging to five telcos and telecommunication service points, imposing fines on 12 branches and 21 service points. The inspectors found that the branches and service points sold trash SIM cards with already-declared information of subscribers and already-activated pre-paid mobile services. Users could buy ready-activated SIM cards without having to register or declare their information.
Since June, Viettel, VNPT, and MobiFone, the three largest networks, have stopped selling KITs at authorised agents and revoked the agents’ right to connect subscriber numbers. Instead, they will focus on selling SIM cards and accept subscriber’s information registration at their telecommunication service points.
The COVID-19 pandemic has seen the emergence of cashless, cautious and more conscientious consumers, according to the latest global survey by a British multinational banking and financial services company.
The firm found that 73 per cent of Malaysian survey respondents agree that the pandemic has made them more positive about online shopping, but they were also more careful with their spending and wanted new ways to track their money digitally.
The study involved 12,000 adults across 12 markets – Hong Kong, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Mainland China, Malaysia, Pakistan, Singapore, Taiwan, United Arab Emirates, the United Kingdom and the United States. It is the second in a three-part series, looking at how Covid-19 has transformed consumers’ way of life, and what changes could be here to stay.
While the first survey focused on the pandemic’s impact on earnings, the second offers new insights into the way the global health crisis is changing consumer spending habits. Respondents in all 12 markets anticipate doing more of their shopping online from now on.
Before the pandemic, only 30 per cent of Malaysians said that they preferred shopping online compared to 70 per cent who preferred shopping in-person. However, this has shifted significantly with 51 per cent now preferring online payments to the in-person card or cash payments. This increase in preference for online payments is true across a range of purchases, from groceries and travel to digital devices.
As a result, 79 per cent of people in Malaysia now expect the country to go fully cashless, with a majority expecting this to happen by 2030, the report noted. Meanwhile, as spending increases as lockdowns eases globally – 57 per cent of Malaysians reported increased spending in July, while 82 per cent of people in Malaysia say the pandemic has made them more careful with their expenditure.
Reflecting this increased caution, 68 per cent of the survey respondents in Malaysia said the economic impact of Covid-19 has made them more likely to track their spending, with over 80 per cent either using or interested in using budgeting tools or tools that block card-spend over specified limits.
Consumers around the world, including in Malaysia, are also now spending more on basics – such as groceries and healthcare – and digital devices than they did before the pandemic, and they expect this increase to continue in the future.
As well as increased caution when it comes to spending, consumers around the world are increasingly conscientious. This is good news for small businesses and those producing locally made goods, particularly those making and selling sustainably sourced products.
In Malaysia, more than half of people say they are now more likely to shop locally (64 per cent), more sustainably (54 per cent) and with small businesses (52 per cent). This is particularly true of younger generations (18-44), suggesting this trend is likely to continue.
The Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer of the firm’s Malaysian branch stated that the pandemic had accelerated digital adoption among the Malaysian consumers who have now found themselves more comfortable with online transactions, from shopping to investing.
The firm’s own data ATM withdrawal data supports this shift with ATM usage declining to half the levels they were two years ago, with Covid-19 dramatically accelerating the decline. He added that in a world where people are being more cautious with their spending, being able to keep track of where your money goes is very important.
One way to do that is to keep payments digital. Banks must continue to innovate digitally so that clients can conveniently and securely transact, track and manage their spending.