January 24, 2021

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Vietnam prioritises cybersecurity

With Vietnam being one of the largest targets for cyberattacks in the world, enhancing information safety is a crucial issue the country needs to address as it aims for complete digital transformation.

Along with digital transformation, it is necessary to build a capable workforce specialised in cybersecurity, the Minister of Information and Communication (MIC) Nguyen Manh Hung said during the annual International Conference and Exhibition Vietnam Information Security Day, held last week.

The country must also continually update its technologies to protect the national cyberspace better. Stimulating digital transformation has made Vietnam more vulnerable to cyber threats. A press statement quoted a report, which said more than 1.6 million cyberattacks over the first half of 2020 targeted small and medium-sized enterprises in Southeast Asia. Indonesia, Malaysia, and Vietnam experienced the largest number of attacks.

The rise in the attacks has skyrocketed since March when COVID-19 reached its first peak, and the entire country was social distancing. Cybercriminals took advantage of the chaos to perform non-technical attacks such as fraud via sending e-mails, an industry expert explained. By attaching coronavirus-related topics to messages, the rate of clicking on attachments containing malware sharply increased from that time.

During the first nine months of the year, Vietnam ranked 18th in the number of cyberattacks. In the first quarter of this year, the country saw about 838 attacks. In the second and the third quarter, the number soared by 27.3% and 7.5% on-year, respectively.

The release noted that enhancing security in healthcare and education is the primary objective because, under the National Digital Transformation Programme to 2025, these sectors will be the first to be digitalised.

Improving the security of healthcare, education, or any segment should be based on first classifying data based on its nature into categories that can be shared with the public and sensitive information that can only be shared with users with certain credentials, among others.

Further, Do Lap Hien, deputy director at the e-government Centre of the Authority of IT Application under MIC, explained that the government launched a portal to share information inside ministries and with the public. However, it remains a work in progress and offers limited functionality.

“The initial design of the website was to provide and share data within the local government,” Hien said. “Afterwards, we added the function of providing open data for businesses and local people. We are completing the function.”

According to information published at the conference, healthcare and education are the two most-targeted sectors for cyberattacks. For healthcare, protecting patient databases has been a major concern for most hospitals. Meanwhile, protecting children from harmful content while they use learning documents online has been a serious issue for parents. According to data published by MobiFone, last year nearly 200,000 children were attacked on the Internet, much higher than the 2018 estimate of just under 45,000.

Despite the increasing number of cybersecurity services providers, there is a small number of individuals and organisations satisfied with the related solutions offered by companies, according to the Vietnam Software and IT Services Association.

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