Malaysia more vulnerable to cyberattacks amid digital boom


MALAYSIA is becoming more vulnerable to cyber threats as a result of the country’s robust digitalisation efforts, along with the influx of initiatives that are introduced to support the e-commerce boom.

CyberSecurity Malaysia CEO Datuk Dr Amirudin Abd Wahab said the country is currently driving the digital transformation with initiatives such as the Digital Free Trade Zone, e-commerce, as well as the banking segment’s active shift towards digitalisation.

“When it comes to technology, it’s a dual leg-swap; either good or bad. Therefore, all stakeholders have to embrace both the good and bad of the digital boom, as it is impossible to stop.

“However, it is important to minimise the negative impact from the technology transference,” he told reporters at the launch of Vigilant Asia (M) Sdn Bhd in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Amirudin said among the factors that attract more cyberterrorists to Malaysia include the country’s impeccable infrastructure, high-broadband connectivity, along with the people’s concerted efforts to spur more initiatives to move closer to becoming a digital nation.

Despite the increase awareness level on cyberthreats, Amirudin said small and medium enterprises still fail to realise the importance of cybersecurity, which is a major challenge faced by the country as the segment contributes a significant portion to the overall economic growth.

“Most of them take cybersecurity lightly because their priorities are mainly to survive. So, this is an area that we have to further tackle to increase the country’s awareness level,” he added.

Vigilant Asia group CEO Victor Cheah said more measures are needed to increase the awareness level for both retail and institutional stakeholders.

He added that it is important to further nurture collaborations between the private sector and the government to foster more mutually beneficial partnerships to uplift the country’s cybersecurity level.

“The government will need to begin informing organisations to come forward should there be cases of data breach or any digital threats that are storming their gates, as most firms tend to be tight-lipped on this matter.

“Hence, it is important to drive the awareness and at the same time beef-up security from a regulatory standpoint,” Cheah said.

Statistics from the Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team showed that there were 7,962 reported cybercrime cases and 1.22 million spam emails throughout the nation in 2017.

Vigilant Asia, a subsidiary of Efficient Group Malaysia, made its debut yesterday, following the unveiling of its first Regional Security Operations Centre (RSOC) that will be operating from Malaysia.

The new system will provide companies across Asean comprehensive security and help them to detect cyberattacks and respond to them on a 24.7.365 basis.

Cheah said Vigilant Asia is dedicated to aid companies to tackle cyber risks by effectively understanding, monitoring and managing them.

“We have developed a cybersecurity system that is online 24 hours daily to evaluate threats and develop solutions with digital security tools that are procured and customised from software firms that are leaders in the industry,” he said.

The launch ceremony was witnessed and officiated by Science, Technology and Innovation Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abu Bakar Mohamad Diah.

Abu Bakar said in his keynote address that many firms are still unprepared for cyberattacks, which indicates significant gaps in security development, cyber awareness and resource allocation.

“We must always be reminded that cyber threats are also targeting small companies and not just large corporations.

“Massive ransomware attacks have hit businesses around the world, forcing major companies to shut down their computer systems.

“As of today, at least 43% of cyberattacks against businesses are targeted at small companies, and this number will only keep increasing,” he said.

According to a research from Juniper Research, cybercrime will cost businesses over U$2 trillion (RM7.82 trillion) by 2019, a fourfold increase from 2015.