Cybersecurity Should Include Everyone, From the Government to Organisations and Individuals – CYDES 2021

“The pandemic has changed almost everything in our life. Our lifestyles have changed and thus, embracing digital technology has become a new norm,” opened YAB Tan Sri Dato' Haji Muhyiddin bin Haji Mohd, Malaysia Prime Minister, in the virtual Cyber Defence & Security Exhibition And Conference (CYDES 2021) event organised by the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA).

CYDES 2021, the second edition of the event that started last year, aims to showcase advanced solutions and technologies to address cyber defence and cybersecurity challenges for the public and private sectors with the objective of protecting key critical national infrastructures.

Launching this year’s event, the Malaysian Prime Minister mentioned that the pandemic has opened up the floodgate of threats, risks and vulnerabilities in cyberspace. In fact, he said that the number of cybercrimes increased to 14,229, with total losses of RM 413 million in 2020, compared to 11,875 cases in 2019.

“Cybersecurity should become the priority of every nation, especially on matters underlying economic and national security. As such, it has become one of the government’s main focus areas to complement our efforts in accelerating the economic growth of this country,” added the Prime Minister.

Among the actions from the government to meet this goal is MyDigital, aimed at encouraging all Malaysians to embrace digitalisation, and the implementation of Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy 2020 - 2024 to achieve the vision of building a secured, trusted and resilient cyberspace.

To talk more about such objectives from the government, CYDES 2021 featured a panel session that included Ir. Md Shah Nuri Md Zain, Chief Executive, NACSA, Malaysia, David Koh Tee Hian, Chief Executive, Cyber Security Agency, Singapore and H.E. Dr Tobias Feakin, Ambassador for Cyber Affairs and Critical Technology, Australia, along with YBhg. Datuk Khairul Shahril Idrus, Deputy Director General of National Security (​Strategic Security), National Security Council, Malaysia, as the moderator.

Talking about the key considerations for a country when developing its cybersecurity strategies, David said that nations should consider cybersecurity as a key enabler to economic progress and the betterment of living standards. According to him, it is important to ensure the security and resilience of cyberspace as it increasingly causes a real-world physical impact.

For Tobias, it is a fact that in terms of formulating, the higher levels, such as the CEO, needs to be engaged. He added that cybersecurity is no longer a technical issue that could be ignored, especially when everything is being interconnected and only increasing.

In Malaysia, Shah said that it is important to assign clear roles and responsibilities to the related agencies in cybersecurity to ensure effective coordination and governance.

“This is to avoid or minimise overlapping of initiatives done by the agencies. Actions should be taken in a coordinated and consistent approach. In addition, to formulate a good strategy, a state must take into consideration the three interrelated and interdependent factors aspect of people, processes and technologies,” Shah explained.

He added that countries need to integrate cybersecurity in every level of the community and the organisation, considering all parties involved in the supply chain by developing skills and raising awareness.

On the vital question of how the government can engage society in enhancing cybersecurity, Shah commented that everybody needs to understand the risks of cyber threats, the implications to them, to the economy and the national security, and this will continue to be an essential mission for the government going forward. “We need to have engagement and information-sharing continuously. This awareness needs to be carried out continuously by everybody – the public sector and private sector as well,” ended Shah.

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