Malaysia’s Cyber Defense: One of ASEAN’s Best?

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Malaysia’s Cyber Defense: One of ASEAN’s Best?

Defense minister praises the country’s developing capabilities.

Malaysia’s Cyber Defense: One of ASEAN’s Best?

Malaysia’s defense minister, Hishammuddin Hussein, seen here with his U.S. counterpart Ash Carter.

Credit: Flickr/Ash Carter

Malaysia’s cyber defense capabilities are on track to become one of the best in the region, the country’s defense minister said this week.

Defense Minister Hishammuddin Hussein said that Malaysia was setting up a sophisticated cyber defense system that was now 90 percent complete after three years of work. He added that if work goes according to plan, Malaysia would be among the top countries in the region.

“We have been working on it for nearly three years and it is very specialized and not many powers who have the capabilities would want to share with us unless they trust us, they know that we are strategic,” Hishammuddin said during a press conference after the defense ministry’s monthly assembly and celebration of its Innovation Day, according to the Malaysian daily The Sun.

“Thank God we are in that position, so if the cyber defense initiative goes to plan, it is safe for me to say that we are among the top countries in this region which is up to speed in terms of cyber defense,” he added.

The Malaysian military’s intelligence unit has set up a cyber defense special unit to tackle cyber warfare, and the unit is working with several countries in order to secure the nation.

However, Hishammuddin refused to divulge the number of cyber attack attempts directed against Malaysia since the unit had been set up.

Data from CyberSecurity Malaysia, the agency in charge of securing the country’s cyberspace, suggests that incidents of cyber hacking are on the rise in Malaysia. According to CyberSecurity Malaysia’s chief executive officer Amirudin Abdul Wahab, 1,705 incidents had been reported as of July, a number which already almost surpasses the number of cases witnessed for the whole of 2015, which was recorded at 1,714.

He also said that Malaysian small and medium enterprises (SMEs) were 33 percent likely to be victims of cyber attacks, nearly 5 percent higher than businesses of any other ASEAN country. Amirudin said that this was mostly due to their lack of awareness of information security which leads to “haphazard management of their information and digital assets.”

Malaysia is also one of the top ten countries targeted by malware attacks, according to a study done by the International Telecommunications Union (ITU).

Earlier this month, Malaysia’s Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Madius Tangau said Malaysia needed to develop a national cyber security innovation ecosystem to respond to increasingly sophisticated cyber threats.

Madius, who was delivering a keynote address at the inaugural Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) 2016, said that Malaysia’s approach had to continue to be “revolutionary and innovative.”