In recent times stakeholders from various sectors have started becoming proactively involved in identifying ways to improve justice. However, issues that hampered this mission include a lack of good governance thereby hindering the institution of an efficient, fair, transparent, and accountable system.
These issues can only be rectified through continued effort, necessitating cooperation from all sides.
Thus, a recent article reported on how Open Data and AI Technology can play an important role in rectifying the issues prevalent in the Thai justice system.
The adoption of such technology by many governments and agencies has reinforced direct representative democracy since it allows democratic engagement and empowers people in new ways.
Recently, the Thailand Institute of Justice (TIJ) in collaboration with ChangeFusion and several partners held the 2nd Roundtable on Technology for Justice Series (Project j: jX Justice Experiment) under the topic “Open Data and AI for Participatory Justice”.
Open data is a set of machine-readable information that can be freely used, shared and built-on by anyone, anywhere. Artificial intelligence and machine learning tools can be used to find insights and anomalies within such open datasets. For instance, AI can be used to enhance, deepen and accelerate routine data analysis so people can be free to monitor suspicious contracts or payments in depth. This can increase the rate of corruption prosecutions.
The Executive Director of the Thailand Institute of Justice stated that good governance has a direct impact on law and order. It requires a climate of respect for the rule of law, the existence of check and balances, transparency and accountability. A reform of the justice system in this sense asks for measures to ensure efficient and transparent procedures are performed in line with ethical standards.
He noted that Open Data is a key part of this reform as it encourages citizens active participation, by allowing them to look into government data and oversight its procedures.
In Thailand, Open Data and AI are being used in several sectors. For example, in an AI-powered customer support platform analyses data through AI. The data is then made public and people can help monitor real-time incidents, share information and offer suggestions to the government.
Moreover, AI can prevent road accidents by detecting blind spots crossing statistic data from Department of Highways, volunteers and insurance companies. Similarly, the KiiD project creates an ecosystem where people share information and contribute to the economic development, health and safety of an Innovation District.
Other platforms include data.go.th, developed by the Digital Government Development Agency; AI police for women by Royal Thai Police, a project geared to protect vulnerable groups namely, women and children victims of family violence.
It is essential to appreciate how valuable accurate data collection and sharing is in order to maximise modern technology.
Data that is collected and shared has the potential enable governments to operate more effectively; it is government’s responsibility to make information – like information on procurement, budget disbursement, government expenditures including taxes and justice related information – accessible to the public.
The Director a Thai News Agency argued that when the public sector refuses to share information, it might have a hidden agenda or the interests of those in power are at stake.
On the other hand, Open Data and AI technologies have limitations including machine bias, privacy issues and a lack of human empathy and emotions.
However, as these tools become more sophisticated as time goes on and they have the potential to alleviate the bias and inefficiencies facing the justice system while improving fairness and safety.
The reform of a fair justice system is indeed a challenging undertaking which calls for all stakeholders’ cooperation. Thus, Thailand’s government needs a concerted effort on the part of key stakeholders – policymakers, venture capitalists, entrepreneurs, and researchers – to promote a culture that embraces innovation and leads to more effective, transparent and responsive civil services and criminal justice systems.
The Minister of Digital Economy and Society has outlined the ministry’s operational policy within the framework of “The Growth Engine of Thailand.” This plan emphasises three key areas:
- Enhancing the country’s digital capabilities for competitive advantage
- Ensuring stability and security in the digital economy and society
- Fostering the development of the nation’s digital human capital
This policy is a roadmap for advancing Thailand’s digital economy and society in the next phase.
Mr. Prasert Chandraruangthong, Minister of Digital Economy and Society (DES), shared this operational policy with the media, highlighting the three primary drivers of Thailand’s digital economy and society. These include:
- Strengthening digital capabilities to enhance the country’s competitiveness (Thailand Competitiveness).
- Ensuring stability and security in the digital economy and society (Safety & Security).
- Developing the potential of the country’s digital human capital (Human Capital).
Mr Prasert emphasised that the foremost driver for Thailand’s digital economy and society is a set of guidelines to enhance digital capabilities to create a competitive advantage for the nation. The Ministry of Digital Technology will focus on improving efficiency and leveraging the country’s digital infrastructure to generate opportunities. This effort will accelerate the development of telecommunications systems, high-speed internet networks, and 5G technology to enhance people’s quality of life, boost business and industrial sectors, and facilitate international trade and investment through global communication networks.
In the future, Thailand aims to become a regional hub for submarine cable networks, boost international trade and e-commerce, and enhance digital identity verification through National Digital ID. They are preparing for the AI-driven economic era and developing a master plan for responsible artificial intelligence (AI).
The Ministry of Digital Affairs plans to bolster Thailand’s global digital competitiveness by supporting Digital Startups through a Co-Investment system and the Digital Startup Go Global Development Fund. The focus is on increasing income opportunities for farmers, aiding SMEs in adopting digital tech, and positioning Thailand as a key player in Digital Content, E-SPORTS, and international trade. They aim to attract global investments in Over-The-Top (OTT) Platform businesses, streamline business establishment processes, and ensure fair tax collection.
To promote digital literacy, the ministry will facilitate internet access for children and youth, enable safe access to global libraries via AI, and encourage communities to embrace digital technology for income generation and adaptation to the digital economy.
These efforts aim to enhance the efficiency of digital government services by integrating big data from government agencies and promoting services across sectors with open APIs for public and private sector convenience. This includes implementing One Stop Service, developing the One Wallet system, and utilising Blockchain technology and Smart Contracts to establish transparent rules, reducing discretionary decision-making by officials. Thai Digital Startups will be given opportunities to participate in system development.
Thailand is preparing to join the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and engage with international digital agencies. They aim to transform the nation with a Mega Programme, expanding projects like Thailand Digital Valley and extending smart city areas.
Addressing cybercrime is crucial for digital economy stability. Initiatives include combating online fraud and improving cybersecurity through a Cyber Alert Centre.
Thailand plans to establish coding schools, offer accessible digital classrooms for upskilling, and incentivise digital skill development to enhance digital human capital. Short-term efforts involve:
- Setting up a Cyber Alert Centre.
- Fostering gaming careers.
- Addressing workforce shortages via the Global Digital Talent Visa programme.
A representative of the country’s think tank, the National Institute of Transforming India (NITI Aayog), Ramesh Chand, formally introduced the Unified Portal for Agricultural Statistics (UPAg Portal). This marks a significant step in tackling the complex governance issues in India’s agricultural sector. It is designed to optimise and elevate data management within the agricultural sphere. It will contribute to a more efficient and responsive agricultural policy framework.
The portal standardises data related to prices, production, area, yield, and trade, consolidating it in a single location. This eliminates the necessity to compile data from multiple sources. The portal can also conduct advanced analytics, providing insights into production trends, trade correlations, and consumption patterns.
Furthermore, the portal will produce granular production estimates with increased frequency, improving the government’s capacity to respond swiftly to agricultural crises. Commodity profile reports will be generated using algorithms, reducing subjectivity and providing users with comprehensive insights. Users also have the flexibility to use the portal’s data for crafting their own reports, fostering a culture of data-driven decision-making.
The portal was developed by the Department of Agriculture and Farmers’ Welfare (DA&FW). During his speech, Chand hailed the platform as an investment and a monumental leap forward in the field of agricultural data management. He encouraged the audience to embrace a shift in mindset within agriculture, aimed at bringing about transformative changes. Research suggests that US$ 1 invested in data generated a US$ 32 impact, he said.
The portal empowers stakeholders with real-time, reliable, and standardised information, laying the foundation for more effective agricultural policies. He also asserted that when data is more objective, the room for subjective judgment in policy-making diminishes, resulting in more stable, transparent, and well-informed decisions. He advised that the portal should prioritise data credibility to maximise its effectiveness.
Secretary of the DA&FW, Manoj Ahuja, underscored the various ongoing initiatives by the department, such as the Krishi Decision Support System, the farmer registry, and crop surveys. He articulated that the UPAg Portal is envisioned as a public good, aiming to provide users with reduced search costs, minimised obstacles, and access to trustworthy, detailed, and impartial data. According to a press release, the UPAg portal tackles the following challenges:
Lack of Standardised Data: At present, agricultural data is scattered across multiple sources, often presented in diverse formats and units. The UPAg Portal’s objective is to centralise this data into a standardised format, making it easily accessible and understandable for users.
Lack of Verified Data: Reliable data is crucial for accurate policy decisions. UPAg Portal ensures that data from sources like Agmarknet is vetted and updated regularly, ensuring policymakers receive accurate information on agricultural prices.
Fragmented Data Sources: To construct a comprehensive understanding of any crop, it is necessary to consider multiple variables such as production, trade, and prices. The portal consolidates data from various sources, enabling a holistic assessment of agricultural commodities.
Inconsistent Frequency Variables: Data updates at different times, causing delays and inefficiencies. The portal offers real-time connectivity with data sources, reducing the time and effort required for monitoring and analysis.
The UPAg Portal is expected to play a pivotal role within the Digital Public Infrastructure for Agriculture, focusing on harnessing the diversity of the agriculture sector and leveraging data as a catalyst for growth.
The University of Michigan has developed machine-learning algorithms technology. This new technology can identify problematic areas in antibodies, making them less susceptible to binding non-target molecules. This innovative development, led by Peter Tessier, the Albert Mattocks Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at U-M and the study’s corresponding author in Nature Biomedical Engineering, presents a ground-breaking solution to enhance the effectiveness of antibodies in fighting diseases.
“Antibodies play a crucial role in our immune system’s defence mechanism by binding to specific molecules known as antigens on disease-causing agents, such as the spike protein on the COVID-19 virus,” Tessier expressed, “Once bound, antibodies either directly neutralise harmful viruses or cells or signal the body’s immune cells to take action.”
However, there’s a challenge associated with antibodies designed to bind strongly and rapidly to their specific antigens. These antibodies may also bind to non-antigen molecules, leading to their premature removal from the body. Moreover, they can interact with other antibodies of the same type, forming dense solutions that do not easily flow through the needles used for delivering antibody drugs.
Tessier highlighted the importance of antibodies that can simultaneously perform three critical tasks: tightly binding to their intended target, repelling each other, and disregarding other substances within the body. Antibodies failing to meet all three criteria are unlikely to be successful drugs. Unfortunately, a significant number of clinical-stage antibodies fall short in this regard.
In their recent study, Tessier’s team assessed the activity of 80 clinical-stage antibodies in the laboratory. It made a startling discovery – 75% of these antibodies interacted with the wrong molecules, with each other, or both. To address this issue, the team turned to machine learning.
By making subtle changes to the amino acids that make up an antibody, they can alter the antibody’s three-dimensional structure. This modification helps prevent antibodies from behaving improperly, as an antibody’s structure determines the substances it can bind to. However, making changes without careful consideration can introduce more problems than they solve, and the typical antibody contains hundreds of amino acid positions that could be altered.
Fortunately, machine learning offers a streamlined solution. Tessier’s team created models that are trained using experimental data collected from clinical-stage antibodies. These models can precisely identify how to modify antibodies to ensure they meet all three criteria mentioned earlier, with an impressive accuracy rate of 78% to 88%. This approach significantly reduces the number of antibody modifications that chemical and biomedical engineers need to produce and test in the lab.
Tiexin Wang, a doctoral student in chemical engineering and a co-author of the study, emphasised the pivotal role of machine learning in accelerating drug development. This advanced technology is already attracting attention from biotech companies, which recognise its potential for optimising the development of next-generation therapeutic antibodies.
Tessier concluded by mentioning that some companies have developed antibodies with desirable biological activity but are aware of potential challenges when using these antibodies as drugs. In such cases, Tessier’s team steps in to identify specific areas within the antibodies that require modification, offering valuable assistance to these companies.
The National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN) acknowledges that technological advancements will trigger increasingly massive and diverse cybersecurity risks and threats. These threats focus on social, psychological, and behavioural aspects and activities aimed at influencing or manipulating individuals, groups, or communities, which can disrupt mindsets, behaviours, and human interactions.
Instances of these social cybersecurity threats include disseminating false electronic information, also known as information disruption. Information disruption is divided into misinformation, disinformation, and misinformation, real threats that can spread fear or provoke and lead to the widespread dissemination of false news and even propaganda.
One of BSSN’s steps in anticipating social cyberattacks is to strengthen the culture of information security by collaborating with the Directorate General of Public Information and Communication (Ditjen IKP) of the Ministry of Communication and Information Technology through the joint creation of content in Komik Komunika with the theme “Digital Deception.”
Acting Director of Security and Information Control Operations at BSSN, Satryo Suryantoro, welcomed the cooperation and collaboration established by publishing Komik Komunika edition 48. The introduction of the character Cody in this comic edition strengthens the connection between the world of cybersecurity literacy and a more engaging visual approach.
Previously, Cody was introduced in the cybersecurity literacy series titled “Cybernaut Generation 1.0.” Cody’s presence in the comic provides continuity in delivering crucial messages about cybersecurity to various audiences, especially the younger generation, who may be more connected to visual forms of communication.
There is also the Latest Social Cyber Education News (BESTI), which has successfully published 8 editions in 2 languages. The presence of bilingual versions is an effort to ensure that as many people can receive messages related to cybersecurity as possible. Using two languages, BESTI strives to embrace diverse audiences, including those who may be more comfortable with one language. It also makes the cybersecurity education approach more inclusive and far-reaching.
In other words, this comic is part of a broader strategy to educate the public about the importance of cybersecurity and how they can protect themselves online. Through various communication tools such as comics, literacy materials, and educational news, this effort aims to reach a wider audience and create a better understanding of the challenges and solutions in the ever-evolving cyber world. The more people receive this message, the better the community’s ability to face existing cybersecurity threats.
Satryo is optimistic that cybersecurity literacy in Indonesia can be strengthened through ongoing cooperation and collaboration. He plans to collaborate even in Remote, Frontier, and Outermost Areas (Daerah 3T).
“I am optimistic that the results of the collaboration, such as Komik Komunika, can be accessible to the younger generation, both in urban areas and in Daerah 3T,” Satryo adds.
Nursodik Gunarjo, Director of Media Management at the Directorate General of IKP Kemenkominfo, stated that cybersecurity awareness is conveyed through various media, including comics. According to Gunarjo, comics are deliberately chosen because images and visual presentations appeal more strongly to the younger generation. Moreover, the fact that Indonesia is the largest consumer of comics in the world.
He also expressed his optimism that cybersecurity literacy through comics can increase the younger generation’s understanding, awareness, and participation in efforts to maintain Indonesia’s cyber sovereignty.
“Without active participation from the younger generation in applying cybersecurity, the risks to our country in the digital world will increase,” he said.
The Hong Kong Polytechnic University (PolyU) has secured substantial funding support totalling HK$25.1 million for a selection of 27 innovative projects from the Health and Medical Research Fund (HMRF) during the 2021 funding allocation. This represents a noteworthy increase in both the number of projects and the total funding awarded, underlining the university’s commitment to advancing research in the fields of health and medicine through technology and innovation.
The projects receiving these awards are driven by researchers from various faculties within the university, including the Faculty of Health and Social Sciences, Faculty of Humanities, Faculty of Science, and the School of Design. These projects collectively aim to develop pioneering and impactful solutions geared towards enhancing the quality of medical and mental healthcare services.
The research initiatives encompass an extensive spectrum of topics and age groups, addressing critical health concerns and providing innovative solutions. Some of the projects focus on cognitive and physical training programmes tailored for older adults, early detection of postpartum depression, adolescent idiopathic scoliosis, Parkinson’s disease, autism spectrum disorder, and system-biology analytics for schizophrenia. Other projects aim to advance medical progress in critical areas such as liver cancer radiotherapy and palliative care.
In the realm of eye health, the projects delve into areas such as myopia control, the development of an anti-glaucoma agent, and the creation of drugs for antibiotic and infection treatment. Additionally, several projects concentrate on providing support for caregivers by enhancing their mental health services while also catering to the specific needs of patients.
One notable aspect of this research is the integration of artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, including deep learning and machine learning, to enhance clinical diagnosis and analysis. For instance, Prof Weixong ZHANG, Chair Professor of Bioinformatics and Integrative Genomics at the Department of Health Technology and Informatics, is leading the project “Subtyping and Diagnosis of Schizophrenia by Systems-biology Analytics.” This initiative employs AI technologies to integrate genomic and neuroimaging data, facilitating a deeper understanding of schizophrenia’s etiology and subtypes, with the ultimate goal of enabling personalised medicine for affected individuals.
In the context of liver cancer radiotherapy, Dr Tian LI, Research Assistant Professor of the Department of Health Technology and Informatics, is spearheading the project “Investigation of a Deep Learning-empowered 4D multi-parametric MRI (4D-mpMRI) Technique for Liver Cancer Radiotherapy in a Prospective Clinical Trial.” This endeavour aims to enhance the image quality and clinical effectiveness of 4D-mpMRI radiotherapy techniques by leveraging deep learning, ensuring more accurate measurement of tumour motion and volume for improved treatment planning.
Technology is also playing a pivotal role in the field of rehabilitation management. Autism spectrum disorder, a condition without a cure, presents unique challenges. Dr Yvonne Ming Yee HAN, Associate Professor of the Department of Rehabilitation Sciences, leads the project “Cumulative and Booster Effects of Multisession Prefrontal Transcranial Direct-current Stimulation on Cognitive and Social Impairments in Adolescents with Autism Spectrum Disorder.” This research explores the potential long-term efficacy of transcranial direct current stimulation (tDCS) in mitigating core symptoms in individuals with autism, offering hope for improved cognitive and social functioning.
Creative technologies are also being harnessed to enhance the effectiveness of physical and mental health treatments in both clinical and community settings. Dr Shanshan WANG, Research Assistant Professor of the School of Nursing, leads the project “Effects of e-bibliotherapy on the Psychological Wellbeing of Informal Caregivers of People with Dementia: A Randomized Controlled Trial.” This initiative has developed an e-bibliotherapy app/manual aimed at improving the psychological well-being and health-related quality of life for caregivers of dementia patients.
In an innovative endeavour, Dr Hailiang WANG, Assistant Professor of the School of Design, is leading the project “A VR-based Real-time Interactive Tutoring System for Qigong Training among Older Adults with Mild Cognitive Impairment and Their Familial Caregivers: A Feasibility Study.” This project explores the integration of traditional exercise Qigong with virtual reality (VR)-based training to design a platform that enables older adults to engage in Qigong exercises, potentially delaying the progression of dementia.
PolyU’s securing of funding aligns with Hong Kong’s broader efforts to drive positive societal change through technological innovation, echoing the collaborative spirit seen in initiatives like the “Healthcare Innovation Challenge” organised by the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP), as reported earlier by OpenGov Asia, in partnership with a US-based pharmaceutical company. These endeavours collectively demonstrate the region’s dedication to leveraging technology to shape the future of healthcare and advance societal well-being.
In today’s rapidly evolving world, collaborating in education is not just important; it is also essential for the advancement of any nation, including Thailand. To make strides in education, especially in a digital age, fostering collaboration and utilising digital technology are crucial components.
The Office of Academic Service at Khon Kaen University (KKU) in Thailand recognised the significance of collaboration and digital empowerment in education. They took a step by bringing together a group of over 35 members from the KKU Lifelong Education Programme Development Committee to visit two institutions and explore the digital dimensions of education collaboration.
Their first visit was to the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute, where they delved into programme and curriculum revisions aligned with professional standards.
What is noteworthy here is how these revisions are not just about traditional education; they also involve preparing students to receive professional qualifications, a process that can be significantly enhanced through digital technology. With digital tools and platforms, students can access and complete these programmes more effectively, bridging the gap between education and professional readiness.
The second visit took them to King Mongkut University of Technology Thonburi (KMUTT), where they explored the innovative concept of “Micro Credentials.” Micro-credentials are digital certificates that certify and enhance specific competencies.
This concept, deeply rooted in digital technology, is a game-changer for education. It enables individuals, especially working professionals, to select and acquire the exact skills they need to advance their careers. These digital certificates, accessible online, offer a flexible and convenient way to upskill or reskill, making continuous learning more achievable in the digital age.
Furthermore, Micro-Credentials encourage people to stay curious and open to new learning opportunities, fostering a culture of lifelong learning. Digital platforms play a pivotal role here, as they provide a vast array of educational resources and opportunities accessible at any time.
It is not just about what are the subject; it is about how digital technology enables you to prove your skills through your experiences and accomplishments. In the digital landscape, your credentials and competencies are not just words on paper; they are verifiable and shareable online, making them more valuable to employers.
Assoc Prof Chuchat Kamollert, PhD, DVM, Director of the Office of Academic Services, KKU, led the KKU delegation during their visit to the Thailand Professional Qualification Institute. Here, they saw how professional standards, meticulously crafted by experts from various domains, have evolved to reflect workplace requirements accurately. These standards serve as mechanisms to certify competency, making sure individuals are not just theoretically knowledgeable but capable of performing their jobs effectively. In a digital context, this competency verification can be facilitated through various e-learning platforms and assessment tools.
Additionally, there is a significant opportunity for collaboration between institutions like TPQI and Khon Kaen University to incorporate existing programmes as certified training courses. With digital technology, these courses can be made accessible to a broader audience, reaching more students and addressing the growing demand for skilled professionals in today’s job market.
The second part of their journey took them to KMUTT, where Assoc Prof Bandit Tipakorn, PhD, Advisor to the President for Learning Innovation, welcomed KKU delegates. They delved into the concept of “Management of Lifelong Education under the Concept of Micro Credentials.”
This concept is not just about learning; it’s about leveraging digital technology to empower working individuals to choose, develop, and prove their necessary skills. In a world where the skills needed for success are constantly evolving, this approach ensures that individuals can adapt, upskill, or reskill at any time to keep their careers on the right track.
Assoc Prof Chuchat acknowledged that digital technology plays a pivotal role in this approach, as it offers a vast array of resources, including online courses, webinars, and interactive platforms, that make learning more accessible and engaging.
“The ability to learn and prove skills through digital certificates enhances the employability of individuals, ultimately benefiting both the workforce and employers,” expressed Assoc Prof Chuchat.
The world’s first integrated cyber defence, cyber security, and emerging technology event, CYDES 2023, took place at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre (MITEC) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, highlighting the importance of addressing cyber-threat challenges and fostering collaboration within the ASEAN region.
Cybersecurity leaders across Asia concur that collaboration and breaking down silos among organisations and sectors are essential for success in tackling the complex and ever-evolving challenges of cybersecurity, ensuring the preservation of digital infrastructure.
David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity and Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) of Singapore, emphasised the importance of collaboration among different agencies to effectively address cybersecurity challenges, “Cyber is a team sport. We can’t do this by ourselves.”
For example, the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore works closely with the Ministry of Home Affairs, the Ministry of Defence, and the Ministry of Communications and Information to share critical information and coordinate responses to cyber threats.
However, to effectively combat cyber threats, government agencies require the cooperation and active involvement of businesses, academia, and civil society as valuable partners in the collective effort to strengthen cybersecurity measures.
According to David, in the rapidly evolving cyberspace landscape, private companies possess valuable intelligence, operational capabilities, and technical know-how that complement government efforts, making partnering with the private sector essential for robust cybersecurity measures.
This collaborative approach fosters a comprehensive and unified response, leveraging diverse expertise and resources to safeguard digital infrastructures and protect against evolving cyber threats.
“Governments must therefore collaborate with the private sector to enhance their cybersecurity posture,” David believes. “Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) play a crucial role in fostering information sharing, promoting collaborative research and development, and driving innovation in cybersecurity, enabling governments and private companies to jointly address the ever-growing challenges of the digital era.”
The successful partnership between the Singaporean government and a private technology corporation during the response to the SolarWinds attack exemplifies how PPPs can leverage private sector expertise to obtain critical technical information and develop actionable indicators of compromise, enhancing the collective cybersecurity defence capabilities.
This is merely one instance in which PPPs can assist the public sector in enhancing its cybersecurity posture. Governments and companies can make the digital world safer for everyone by working together and safeguarding individuals, businesses and critical infrastructures in the digital frontier.
David highlighted the importance of adopting a new perspective, urging governments to share information with private businesses and embrace innovative ideas. This shift is challenging yet essential for effective cybersecurity in the digital world. By adjusting their approach and collaborating with private companies, governments can contribute to a safer digital environment for all.
Indeed, Public-Private Partnerships (PPPs) play a crucial role in cybersecurity, as they bridge the gap between the public and private sectors. By sharing information, expertise, and resources, these partnerships enhance the collective ability to detect, prevent, and respond to cyber threats effectively.
Moreover, PPPs facilitate the development of new technologies and innovative solutions, fostering a collaborative environment for tackling evolving cybersecurity challenges. Ultimately, such collaborations improve the coordination of cybersecurity efforts, leading to a more robust and secure global digital landscape and the world (digital and physical) a safer place for everyone.
Shamsul Bahri Hj Kamis, Interim Commissioner of Cyber Security Brunei (CSB), highlighted the need to examine current systems to harmonise cybersecurity in ASEAN. In 2017, ASEAN member states developed the ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy, outlining directions, objectives, and action plans to strengthen cybersecurity in the region.
The policy aims to tackle communication challenges arising from the multitude of sectoral groups within ASEAN working on cybersecurity. This is particularly challenging due to ASEAN’s consensus-based decision-making process, which can sometimes hinder progress.
However, various measures to address cybersecurity in ASEAN are already underway. The ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT), which coordinates the response to cybersecurity incidents, and the ASEAN Cybersecurity Capacity Programme, which provides training and assistance to ASEAN member states in developing their cybersecurity capabilities, are two examples.
“To move forward, ASEAN must devise a strategy for more effectively sharing information and collaborating on addressing the most severe cyber threats,” Shamsul elaborates. “This will necessitate tight collaboration among governments, corporations and civil society.”
Shamsul believes that collaboration within ASEAN can create a secure and resilient digital environment for people and businesses. He stressed the need for shared awareness of the region’s risks and challenges, as well as a clear division of responsibilities among the various sectoral bodies.
Strengthening information sharing within ASEAN and with other nations, along with a focus on capacity building in member states, is essential as cybersecurity should be embraced as a shared responsibility by all stakeholders.
“By resolving these issues, ASEAN can make substantial strides towards regional cybersecurity harmonisation,” Shamsul is convinced.
Shariffah Rashidah Syed Othman, Acting Chief Executive of the National Cyber Security Agency of Malaysia (NACSA), agrees that cybersecurity is increasingly becoming a critical concern for governments and businesses globally, particularly in the ASEAN region, where the rapidly growing digital economy necessitates strong cybersecurity measures.
According to Shariffah, the cross-border nature of cyber threats is one of ASEAN’s greatest cybersecurity challenges. Cybercriminals can simply target victims in one country while operating from another. As a result, governments find it difficult to confront cyber threats on their own.
“By combining the resources and experience of governments and businesses, public-private partnerships can assist in addressing this challenge. Governments can provide regulatory and financial support, while businesses can share knowledge about cyber dangers and best practices,” Shariffah says.
Partnerships between the public and private sectors play a vital role in addressing the barrier of a lack of understanding of cyber risks in the ASEAN region. By collaborating, they can raise awareness of internet threats, educate businesses, and individuals on cybersecurity best practices, and collectively work towards creating a safer digital environment for all.
“ASEAN leaders must recognise that cybersecurity is a shared responsibility. Governments, businesses, and individuals must all work together to secure the region from cyber dangers,” Shariffah stressed.
The comprehensive strategy for enhancing cybersecurity in the region must encompass strengthened government cooperation, information sharing on cyber dangers, increased cyber risk awareness, improved critical infrastructure security, and robust protection of personal data. By addressing these crucial aspects collectively, ASEAN can build a more resilient and secure digital ecosystem for its residents and businesses.
Shariffah outlines several key advantages of public-private partnerships in cybersecurity, such as bridging the divide between technical and non-technical skills, fostering trust and collaboration between governments and enterprises, and facilitating the effective implementation of cybersecurity measures.
By leveraging these partnerships, ASEAN can enhance its cybersecurity capabilities, as governments and companies work together to create a safer and more secure digital environment for everyone in the region.
Shariffah advocates practising “cyber hygiene,” urging individuals to be vigilant about online risks and take proactive measures to protect themselves. This includes using strong passwords, regularly updating software, and exercising caution when sharing personal information on the internet. By promoting cyber hygiene, individuals can play an active role in safeguarding their digital security and contributing to a safer online environment for all.
She also stressed the importance of empathy in cybersecurity, highlighting the need to understand diverse perspectives and communicate in a language that is accessible to all. Recognising the different viewpoints held by individuals is crucial in addressing cybersecurity challenges effectively and fostering a collaborative and inclusive approach to cybersecurity initiatives.
“Cybersecurity is more than just a technical problem – it is a societal issue. Thus everyone needs to be included in the discussion. We can all live in a safer digital environment if we all work together,” Shariffah is convinced.
Indeed, understanding that cybersecurity is not solely a tech challenge but also a community one underscores the importance of involving all stakeholders. By acknowledging the broader societal implications of cybersecurity, public-private partnerships can effectively address challenges and implement comprehensive solutions that safeguard everyone in the digital landscape.
Cybersecurity for SMEs: A Workable Model
David Koh, Commissioner of Cybersecurity and Chief Executive of the Cyber Security Agency (CSA), knows the universal importance of cybersecurity for all organisations but understands there are challenges faced by small and medium-sized firms (SMEs). Due to limited resources and experience, SMEs may find it more difficult to implement effective cybersecurity measures.
The Cyber Security Agency (CSA) in Singapore has created a variety of programmes to assist SMEs in strengthening their cybersecurity posture. The Cyber Essentials mark, which offers a set of fundamental cybersecurity measures that all firms should follow, is one of these initiatives.
The Cyber Essentials mark four important areas including:
- Asset management: Includes cybersecurity awareness for its employees, and classifying and identifying each asset in your company, including its hardware, software, and data.
- Secure and Protect: This entails limiting who has access to and what they can do with the resources of your company.
- Update, backup, and Respond.
“SMEs can begin by adopting Cyber Essentials as a foundational step to strengthen their cybersecurity posture,” David advises. “However, these are just initial restrictions, and SMEs may need to implement additional measures based on their specific requirements and threats.”
If SMEs want to strengthen their cybersecurity posture, they should start with the Cyber Essentials,” David says. It’s crucial to keep in mind that these are merely fundamental, basic restrictions. Depending on their particular requirements and dangers, SMEs may need to implement additional steps, adding that CSA would be happy to share its framework with regional partners like Malaysia and Brunei.
Alongside the Cyber Essentials mark, the Cyber Security Agency (CSA) offers a range of tools to support SMEs in enhancing their cybersecurity. These resources encompass a cybersecurity training programme tailored for SMEs, a dedicated cybersecurity helpline, and a list of certified cybersecurity consultants who can guide SMEs in implementing the Cyber Essentials effectively.
By leveraging the CSA tools, SMEs can significantly bolster their cybersecurity defences and safeguard their businesses against online threats, ensuring the security and protection of their valuable assets and sensitive information.
In addition to CSA’s initiatives, SMEs can bolster their cybersecurity posture through various measures, including ensuring regular software updates, which often include vital security patches to safeguard against known vulnerabilities. Individuals can enhance their cybersecurity by using strong passwords and password management software, while organisations can educate their staff about cybersecurity threats.
Moreover, having a well-defined response plan for cyber incidents is essential for effective cybersecurity management.
“By adopting these measures, SMEs can protect themselves from cyber threats and maintain the security of their businesses,” David concluded.
Shamsul spoke about the Cyber Consortium, a regional programme established in 2021, aimed at bolstering the cybersecurity posture of Southeast Asian SMEs. Comprising academic institutions, IT partners, cybersecurity experts, companies, students, and government regulatory agencies, this collaboration focuses on enhancing cybersecurity resilience in the region.
The Cyber Consortium offers a comprehensive array of services to SMEs, including cybersecurity assessments, training and education, technical support for implementing security measures, and networking opportunities with other SMEs and cybersecurity experts, all aimed at strengthening their cybersecurity defences.
“It is a useful tool for SMEs trying to strengthen their cybersecurity posture. SMEs can get the assistance they need to safeguard their companies against cyber dangers by joining the consortium,” Shamsul believes.
Shariffa acknowledges the dynamic nature of the cybersecurity landscape, with evolving technologies and adaptable cyber threats posing challenges for enterprises and individuals to stay updated with the latest security measures.
“Malaysia’s government has made several efforts to assist businesses in improving their cybersecurity posture,” she reveals. “Funding a programme to assess SMEs’ cybersecurity; collaborating with the local sector to deliver managed security services to SMEs; and collaborating with telcos to impose basic cybersecurity hygiene on their services are all part of this.”
While the mentioned actions are valuable, there are further steps that businesses and individuals can take to bolster their protection against cyber threats. Staying vigilant and informed about the latest cybersecurity risks is crucial, involving keeping abreast of security news, reading security blogs, and participating in security conferences to stay well-prepared.
Adopting a layered security strategy is essential for businesses, involving the implementation of multiple security measures such as firewalls, antivirus software, and intrusion detection systems to provide comprehensive protection.
For individuals, safeguarding against cyber dangers includes using strong and unique passwords, being cautious while sharing personal information online, and remaining vigilant about potential phishing scams to ensure greater online safety.
Education plays a crucial role in strengthening cybersecurity. Businesses should invest in training their staff to recognise and respond to cybersecurity threats effectively. Additionally, having a well-defined incident response plan ensures a swift and organised reaction to cyber incidents, minimising potential damage.
Regularly testing security systems and conducting vulnerability assessments are essential practices to identify and address potential weaknesses in the network. Keeping software up to date with the latest patches and security updates is a fundamental measure to protect against known vulnerabilities and potential exploits.
“The cybersecurity landscape is continuously evolving, but by taking precautions, organisations and individuals may help keep themselves safe from cyber threats,” Shariffa ends. “Combining various efforts can significantly enhance the cybersecurity posture for both businesses and individuals.”
Trust Building in ASEAN Cybersecurity
David believes that focusing on shared goals is a powerful strategy to build trust and foster collaboration among diverse parties in the realm of cybersecurity. Establishing common objectives, such as protecting critical infrastructure from cyber threats, enables everyone involved to unite their efforts towards a collective purpose, leading to more effective and coordinated cybersecurity measures.
“By aligning interests and recognising mutual benefits, stakeholders can work together in harmony to strengthen cybersecurity and safeguard digital environments,” he says.
Sharing information is indeed a crucial approach to building trust and enhancing cybersecurity efforts among different organisations. While it may be challenging to exchange sensitive data, the benefits of sharing outweigh the risks. Timely and accurate information sharing enables organisations to recognise and respond to cyber threats more swiftly and effectively.
“Cybersecurity is a complex challenge, but we can conquer it if we all work together,” David says. “Organisations can construct a more secure and robust digital infrastructure by breaking down silos across organisations and industries and sharing information.”
David stressed the importance of teamwork in cybersecurity, akin to an international team sport requiring countries to cooperate and work together. Global collaboration with partners worldwide was highlighted, as well as, investing in education and training to raise awareness of cybersecurity risks, and developing new technologies to enhance defence against cyber threats.
“We can make the digital world a safer place for everyone if we all work together,” David is confident.
Shamsul appreciates the necessity of trust for effective cybersecurity collaboration, noting that countries lacking trust are less likely to exchange information or cooperate in responding to cyber threats.
Several initiatives are currently underway in ASEAN to strengthen trust and collaboration among member states. Some of these efforts include:
- The ASEAN Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centres in Thailand and Singapore
- The ASEAN Partners Search Information Sharing (APSIS) initiative
- The ASEAN Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy, which calls for the establishment of an ASEAN Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT)
“These activities are assisting in the development of trust among ASEAN member states as well as the improvement of the region’s cybersecurity posture,” Shamsul explains. “However, more work remains to be done.”
Establishing a shared understanding of cybersecurity threats and risks presents a key challenge for effective collaboration among ASEAN member states. Different countries may have varying levels of awareness and perception of cyber dangers, making it crucial to bridge the knowledge gap and foster common ground for tackling cybersecurity issues.
Furthermore, ensuring the safe and secure sharing of information is paramount to building trust and promoting collaboration in cybersecurity efforts. Governments and organisations need robust and reliable mechanisms to exchange critical data and threat intelligence without compromising sensitive information or exposing vulnerabilities.
Despite the challenges faced in establishing shared understanding and secure information sharing, the progress made in enhancing cybersecurity collaboration among ASEAN member nations is encouraging. By continuing to work together and build trust, these countries have the potential to create a more secure and resilient digital future for the region.
Shamsul underscored the importance of a “tangible platform” for knowledge sharing, highlighting its role in fostering trust among ASEAN member states and ensuring the secure and confidential exchange of information. Having a reliable and accessible platform can serve as a foundation for effective collaboration, enabling countries to share valuable insights, best practices, and threat intelligence in real-time.
The National Trust Framework serves as a valuable resource for ASEAN countries seeking to enhance their cybersecurity posture, offering a comprehensive set of recommendations to safeguard critical infrastructure, personal data, and sensitive information.
By exploring this framework, ASEAN countries can save time and costs while building a strong cybersecurity architecture, avoiding the need to reinvent the wheel as the framework provides a solid foundation for their efforts.
“ASEAN countries, I believe, may collaborate to localise and harmonise the National Trust Framework,” said Shamsul. “It would enhance the regional cybersecurity architecture and would improve effectiveness and readiness of ASEAN countries against cyber threats.”
According to Shariffa, building effective human firewalls requires confidence in the commitment of individuals and organisations to cybersecurity, which involves open and willing information sharing about security procedures, ultimately fostering trust and creating a safer and more robust digital ecosystem for countries.
ASEAN countries are dedicated to enhancing regional cybersecurity through collaboration, acknowledging their diverse capacities and competencies. They are working on a flexible framework to facilitate cooperation at individual countries’ respective paces.
As a result, ASEAN cybersecurity mechanisms were established to:
- be a valuable resource for ASEAN countries. It will provide them with access to information and expertise that they may not have otherwise had.
- help to improve coordination between ASEAN countries. This will make it easier for them to share information and respond to cyber threats.
- assist in raising awareness of cybersecurity risks in the region to protect individuals and businesses from cyber-attacks.
Shariffa emphasised that the implementation of the mechanism will involve designating a unit within each ASEAN country. This agency will be responsible for collaborating with other ASEAN nations, sharing information on cyber threats and incidents, and providing technical support to other countries.
The creation of this mechanism represents a significant advancement in ASEAN’s efforts to improve cybersecurity. ASEAN countries can better protect themselves from cyber-attacks and build a more secure digital environment for all by working together.
“The creation of the ASEAN cybersecurity mechanism is a great step forward. It demonstrates the region’s dedication to enhancing cybersecurity,” Shariffa ends.
ASEAN’s Commitment to Improve Cybersecurity
David explained that ASEAN’s ministers have approved a plan to establish a regional Computer Emergency Response Team (CERT) for the region. The ASEAN CERT will serve as a platform for knowledge sharing and skill-building within the region, complementing the existing national CERTs and working collaboratively to enhance cybersecurity across ASEAN.
The ASEAN CERT will strengthen sharing information about cyber threats and incidents; coordinating CERT capacity building programmes in the region; coming up with and supporting best practices for cybersecurity; and educating people about cybersecurity risks and making them more aware of them.
“The ASEAN CERT is a move in the right direction for the region’s attempts to improve cybersecurity,” said David. “By working together, ASEAN countries can protect themselves better from online threats and make the internet safer for everyone.”
The ASEAN CERT will be a valuable resource for member countries, providing access to knowledge and information that may not have been readily available before. By fostering better collaboration and information sharing among the nations, the ASEAN CERT will enhance their collective ability to address cyber threats effectively and strengthen their cybersecurity posture as a united front.
By providing valuable insights into hacking risks, ASEAN CERT will empower individuals and businesses to better protect themselves from cyber-attacks, contributing to a safer digital environment for all. This initiative showcases the region’s commitment to improving cybersecurity and fostering a collective effort to address cyber threats effectively.
Shamsul shares that the ASEAN CERT will collaborate with both foreign and regional groups to advance ASEAN’s cybersecurity objectives and interests. Currently, there is no official platform for CERTs to communicate with one another, making it vital for ASEAN CERTs to foster collaboration, share knowledge, and exchange best practices.
“This collective effort will strengthen the region’s ability to address cyber threats effectively and establish a more secure digital landscape for all ASEAN member states,” he is confident.
The ASEAN CERT will establish partnerships with businesses and higher education institutions, appreciating the valuable information and expertise they possess to enhance cybersecurity. Collaborating with these sectors ensures access to the latest knowledge and skills, enabling ASEAN CERTs to effectively address emerging cyber threats and trends.
By fostering these alliances, the ASEAN CERT can stay at the forefront of cybersecurity advancements, making the region more resilient and better equipped to safeguard its digital landscape.
Shamsul concurs that the establishment of the ASEAN CERT marks a significant advancement in ASEAN’s efforts to enhance cybersecurity. Through collaboration with international and regional organisations, as well as industry and education sectors, the ASEAN CERT can play a crucial role in creating a safer digital environment for everyone in the region.
By fostering partnerships and sharing knowledge, the ASEAN CERT aims to bolster cybersecurity measures, effectively respond to cyber threats, and promote a more secure digital landscape in the ASEAN community.
Shariffa reiterated support for ASEAN initiatives like ASEAN CERT, highlighting that the Malaysian government is actively engaged in strengthening cybersecurity measures. They are currently working on a new Cybersecurity Bill aimed at granting the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) enhanced authority to safeguard the nation’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.
The proposed Cybersecurity Bill in Malaysia seeks to enforce robust security measures for critical national information infrastructure (CNII) owners and operators. By mandating appropriate security measures, the bill has the potential to significantly enhance Malaysia’s cybersecurity posture, bolstering the nation’s resilience against cyber threats and safeguarding its vital information assets.
Shariffa explains that the proposed Cybersecurity Bill aims to grant NACSA expanded investigative and response capabilities, while also imposing a requirement for CNII owners and operators to implement robust security measures.
This comprehensive approach would significantly bolster the protection of Malaysia’s critical infrastructure from cyberattacks, thereby reducing the risk of cyber espionage and enhancing the nation’s overall cybersecurity resilience.
Shariffa sees the proposed Cybersecurity Bill as a positive and transformative step that has the potential to make Malaysia a more secure nation in the digital age.
“With its comprehensive measures to strengthen cybersecurity, the bill can significantly enhance Malaysia’s resilience against cyber threats and safeguard the nation’s critical infrastructure and digital ecosystem,” she believes.
The CYDES 2023 event showcased the determination of ASEAN nations to address cybersecurity challenges and advance in this critical domain. With a focus on cooperation, a wealth of cybersecurity expertise and initiatives like the ASEAN CERT, the region is taking substantial steps towards enhancing its cybersecurity posture.
By continuing to invest in cybersecurity measures, fostering collaboration among member states, and leveraging their unique assets, ASEAN countries are well-positioned to create a safer and more secure digital environment for their residents and businesses in the ever-evolving digital age. Together, they can forge a path towards a more resilient and protected ASEAN region in the face of emerging cyber threats.