Monday May 17, 2004

DPM: Band together to combat hackers

By RAVIND RAMESH

KUALA LUMPUR: The rising incidences of computer hackings in Malaysia has prompted Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak to call on government agencies and the private sector to equip relevant personnel with the latest knowledge, skills and tools to combat such risks.
“The concept of security in the cyberworld and the role of the chief security officer (CSO) in the K-Economy context has changed,” he said after launching the Hacker Halted 2004 seminar here recently.
“The new role of a CSO should not only be to maintain physical security as well as control access by any individual to an organisation's premises and assets, but also to its (computer) networks.”
According to him, statistics from the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre (Niser) show that the number of webpage defacements in the country increased to 231 this quarter, compared with just six in the last quarter of 2003.
“Defensive, reactive approaches are no longer adequate. Organisations need to be proactive in handling information security issues. You will need to better understand the minds and the modus operandi used by hackers,” Najib said.
He also stressed that aside from training their IT personnel, organisations must also take steps to ensure that the ordinary employees are adequately educated on information security policies.
“Evidence shows that most security breaches occur through non-IT personnel who are not fully aware of the consequences of their actions.
“Unless everyone connected to the Internet understands the impact of inadvertent security breaches, vulnerabilities will continue to exist for hackers to exploit and wreak havoc,” he warned.
Najib also suggested that a permanent forum or platform be created to enable members of the IT security fraternity to share the latest information, skills and technologies with one another.
“As we become more integrated with the global trading, commercial and investment environment, we will need to create a community of ethically trained IT security professionals who will be at the forefront of our war against hackers.
“For this forum or platform to be effective, the public and the private sector must form a balanced partnership – one that respects an individual organisation’s right to privacy but at the same time encourages a vital exchange of skills, knowledge and experience.
“I believe this platform will in time enable us to combat the network of hackers, many of whom belong to a forum of their own and are constantly exchanging ideas and tools worldwide.”
Lt Col Husin Jazri, director of Niser, concurred with Najib's suggestion.
“It is time for the good guys to sit down and help each other,” he said, adding that single-handedly taking on ICT security threats was no longer effective today. Husin was a panellist at the seminar.
According to Najib, three new cyberlaws, aimed at helping to preserve and protect Malaysian information networks, are set to be tabled in Parliament soon. These are the Privacy Protection Act, Electronic Transaction Act and the Electronic Government Activities Act.
It was reported earlier that the parliamentary debates on the three Acts, scheduled for last March, had been delayed due to “time constraints.”
Najib added that the Government was currently examining the issue of spamming.


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