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Vietnam Launches Campaign to Detect Loopholes on Anti-COVID-19 Tech Platforms

Image Credit: Authority of Information Technology Application

The Ministry of Information and Communications (MIC) has rolled out a campaign to detect security loopholes on COVID-19 prevention and control tech platforms. According to reports, it also aims to further collect feedback from experts on possible errors and security loopholes on current tech platforms in the field, ensuring information safety and helping developers avoid emerging risks.

In late August, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC), the MIC’s Authority of Information Security and the VNSecurity Foundation jointly launched a bug bounty programme called BugRank. One month after its implementation, the programme received opinions from nearly 90 experts who submitted 81 reports on platforms’ loopholes and shortcomings, the report noted. NCSC Director, Tran Quang Hung, explained that the prompt detection and repair of security vulnerabilities of the applications and systems will help mitigate risks and losses, especially to those that were recently launched like PC-COVID.

BugRank employs a competitive model that leverages the use of ethical hackers (or security researchers) to detect and submit bugs or vulnerabilities within an organisation’s digital assets with the potential for rewards if found and validated within a predefined scope.

The Vietnamese government has been effective at managing the COVID-19 pandemic and its health responses have been aided and accelerated by digital platforms and applications. PC-COVID was developed from the Bluezone mobile application. Smartphone users who have already installed Bluezone can update the app to PC-COVID with all its functions. Bluezone is a Bluetooth, low-energy solution mobile application for smartphones. The platform, developed by government-owned military group Viettel, can provide services like remote medical consultation, remote surgery consultation, remote training, and remote tech transfers, among others.

PC-COVID is the single app for all COVID-19 prevention and control activities in the country. Major functions of the app include a COVID-19 card, health declaration function, COVID-19 vaccination information and testing results, movement tracking, a map of risks, and provides news on overall pandemic prevention and control strategies. However, the app will not replace the electronic health records app, which records the long-term overall medical activities of users.

OpenGov Asia reported that from the first six months of this year, cyberattacks in Vietnam decreased but the level of sophistication and damage was much greater. Vietnam recorded 2,915 cyber-attacks in the first six months of 2021, an increase of 898 compared with the same period last year. Earlier this year, the MIC Minister issued a directive to strengthen the prevention and combat of violations and crimes on the Internet.

The Minister also requested the sector to continue to effectively implement the Prime Minister’s directive on enhancing safety measures on cybersecurity which aims to improve Vietnam’s rankings in cybersecurity. Vietnam jumped 25 places in two years to rank 25th out of 194 countries and territories worldwide in the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) in 2020. It ranked seventh in the Asia-Pacific region and fourth among ASEAN countries, after Singapore, Malaysia, and Indonesia. The leading countries in the Asia-Pacific region are the Republic of Korea and Japan.

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