Malaysia to help Cambodia combat cyber threats

Poovenraj Kanagaraj

On February 25, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page was hacked. The message allegedly relayed a threat to shutdown Facebook in Cambodia if the social media conglomerate bangs shut his account.

On February 25, Prime Minister Hun Sen’s Facebook page was hacked. The message allegedly relayed a threat to shutdown Facebook in Cambodia if the social media conglomerate bangs shut his account.

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Of course, the issue was immediately rectified with Hun Sen later thanking Facebook for the quick restoration.

But in that brief breakdown, shocked by the alleged authoritarian threat, Cambodians spent lunchtime to show dissent over the message, telling the premier he has no right to cease Facebook in Cambodia. Creating dissent and hate against Hun Sen was likely the main objective of the hackers.

As a nation sees growth in widespread online activities and connectivity, it inevitably exposes itself to security issues from hacking to scams, and fake news postings.

Late January, the General Department of Immigration deported 69 Chinese nationals who were allegedly involved in Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) scams. The figure does not include the arrests and deportations made last year for the same reason, and illegal online gambling operations.

These incidents are just a fraction of the cybercrimes allegedly committed in Cambodia, and one that the nation is fervently trying to combat.

Over the years, the Working Group of Council of Ministers came up with a draft for cybercrime legislation that aims to establish a national anti-cybercrime committee which can investigate abuses on cybersecurity.

The draft also lists out various offences ranging from data espionage, illegal interception, data interference, child pornography, computer-related forgery and fraud, and unauthorised data transfer.

However, there has no word on the update of the law. Nevertheless, Cambodia is actively involved in a war against cybercrimes with the help of its neigbours.

At the recent Digital Cambodia convention, Eddin Syazlee Shith, Malaysian deputy minister for telecommunication and multimedia tells Capital Cambodia that his government plans to share knowledge and expertise on the matter.

“For Cambodia to meet its digital transformation goal by 2030, it should take a holistic, concerted and multi-stakeholder approach to combat cybercrimes and threats,” he adds.

Malaysia tackles cybercrimes via various laws including the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission Act, Computer Crime Act, and Digital Signature Act.

Eddin says Malaysia collaborates with strategic partners such as the police, private media outlets, higher learning institutions, non-governmental organisations and community leaders to curb cybersecurity issues.

But, he notes that the challenge in Cambodia, like many other countries, is that it should break the “working-in-silos culture” and collectively address the scourge.

At present, Cambodia has its own national computer emergency response team (CamCERT) that acts as a focal point to deal with computer security issues affecting the internet community.

Eddin believes that CamCERT is able to grow with other ASEAN CERTs through regional and international platforms.

“We are ready to share working models on human resource development to create talent, and collaborate on capacity building in the cybersecurity sector which could be useful for both countries,” he adds.

Global market researcher Frost & Sullivan Inc, in a digital talent study, said Malaysia is expected to produce 10,500 qualified cybersecurity practitioners by 2020.

Both Cybersecurity Malaysia and Cambodia’s National Prosecutor Office are part of the Malaysian Technical Cooperation Programme, set up on the belief that a country’s development depends on the quality of its human resources.

The programme is part of Malaysia’s commitment towards promoting technical cooperation, strengthening regional and sub-regional cooperation, and nurturing collective self-reliance among developing countries.

“I believe this platform will enhance our assistance for Cambodia,” he adds.

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