Jan. 5, 2017
Image (GraphicStock) - Digital threats
In a Leadership 'rapidfire' interview, conducted by Computerworld as part of an extensive 2017 roundup feature ('What's really in store for Malaysia's IT industry in 2017?'), national infosecurity agency CyberSecurity Malaysia's chief executive officer Dato' Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab said the 'threat scape' for the coming year will include more attacks on critical infrastructure."
Photo - YBhg. Dato' Dr. Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer, CyberSecurity Malaysia.
What new aspects do you foresee in the cybersecurity landscape for 2017?
Technological trends have exposed new vulnerabilities and opportunities for cyber attackers, which has multiplied the risks from cyber threats.
We foresee that perpetrators are using some of these technology innovations to refine their areas of expertise in developing more malicious processes, which are replacing traditional methods of attack.
Cyber espionage, hacktivism, malware infection, cybercrimes and misuse of social media will still be at the top of the 2017 threat list. Hackers will continue to make profits by stealing individual and corporate data but there will be more attacks on critical infrastructure.
This expected increase of cyber attacks on the CNII (critical national infrastructure) sectors is also reflected in the global landscape e.g. attacks against financial / banking sector, health / medical sector and so on will continue. Today, Cybercrime remains major threat not only for the private sector and individuals but also for governments and the nations as well. Indeed, President Obama's 2017 fiscal year budget proposed a US$19 billion allocation for cyber security.
What types of threats are being carried over from previous years?
There is a growing concern with certain insidious threats at various levels of society. Ransomware will continue to be in the spotlight in 2017. This is, of course, a type of malware that encrypts data on your computer or smartphone. This allows hackers to threaten to destroy your data unless you pay a ransom. Ransomware attacks have been used against companies, government agencies and individuals. All of us will continue to be vulnerable to this threat group.
What will also become more critically challenging is the increasing complexity of the threat scape due to the increased sophistication and advancement in ICT as well as certain emerging trends such as the Internet of Things (IoT). Challenges from IoT security threats is generally expected to multiply in tandem with the development of more IoT projects and devices in various sectors. We expect that more security weaknesses within IoT will be discovered and exploited in many ways.
What is being done in Malaysia to better secure the digital space?
Cyber security will always remain a national security concern, certainly for many years to come. All parties here share common interests in ensuring the security of the cyber environment, therefore we have been adopting a more coherent and holistic domestic approach to overcome cyber challenges.
In 2017, we expect even more international collaboration and CyberSecurity Malaysia intends to play a major and active role in developing close relationships and partnerships regionally.
Our cooperative efforts are reflected via the Public-Private Partnerships, which are an essential requirement to ensure all parties in Malaysia are able to operate within and benefit from the advantages of a secured and trusted cyber environment. It is of course important to build international collaboration since cyber attacks are 'beyond borders.'