NISER > Speech for The Launch of The National ICT Security and Emergency Response Center (NISER)
YAB DATO' SERI ABDULLAH AHMAD BADAWI
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER
FOR THE LAUNCH OF THE NATIONAL ICT SECURITY AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE CENTRE (NISER)
10 APRIL 2001, 2.30 PM
1. Assalamualaikum Warahmatullahi Wabarakatuh and Salam Sejahtera. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Allow me to convey my appreciation and gratitude to the Secretary of the National Information Technology Council for inviting me to this occasion. It is indeed a privilege and honour for me to have been given this opportunity to speak and officially declare the launch of the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre.
2. Recent advances in information and communication technology (ICT), as well as transnational flows of capital, investment and people, are knitting together societies and economies in a globalised environment. The government has long recognised these and it has been proven by our willingness and capacity to embrace to the fullest the opportunities and the fruits promised by information, communication and multimedia technology. Hence various policies and programmes are designed not only to bring the country fully into the Information Age, but also to be the hub of multimedia development regionally.
3. The government at the same time is fully aware of the many fresh and unprecedented challenges that this technology and globalised environment poses to Malaysia's sovereignty. To be blind to these challenges would be na�ve, and to ignore them, as to ignore some of the ill-effects of globalisation, can be extremely damaging to the well-being of our nation.
4. The potential and actual challenges confronting Malaysia in cyberspace are expected to grow in the next few decades as cyberspace expands to envelop larger areas of social, economic and political activity. To a large extent, the problems confronting Malaysia are common to all nations. The differences stem essentially from varying degrees of vulnerability felt by nations and the differing capacities of nations to manage these challenges.
5. The threats and vulnerabilities to information systems are genuine, diversified and growing. Critical information systems are presently susceptible to information warfare, espionage, sabotage, intrusions and denial of service. These threats and vulnerabilities in ICT are felt by many nations, including the wealthiest and the most advanced. The response to this cannot be one of turning our backs from modern information, communication and multimedia technology. This will only serve to disempower and impoverish our country further. The government is therefore committed not only to embrace and develop ICT technology, but at the same time ensure that this is done in a manner which is maximally beneficial and minimally harmful to the nation's sovereignty and vital interests.
6. Malaysia has traditionally exercised its sovereignty within a defined territory. In the new information sphere, the world is virtually borderless and we are now opened against unknown entities which know no territory and transcend geographical borders. Traditional approaches of protecting and policing territory are simply becoming insufficient. Some understanding on the nature and characteristics of cyberspace is aptly required.
7. The erosion of influence is another challenge faced by many nations including Malaysia. Control is a core and fundamental trait of national sovereignty whether in a democracy or in any other systems. Its erosion or loss seriously undermines the capacity of nations to manage their domestic affairs as well as the ability to function optimally in the external sphere. Even though the free flow of information and data on the Internet has brought many powerful benefits to governments, businesses and the society at large, it occasionally brings adverse consequences to the interests of nations and their people in the political, security, economic and cultural field.
8. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Ideological differences can be very damaging if not handled properly. The objective of the attacks is generally to disrupt or damage what a target population knows or thinks it knows about itself and the world around it. These ideological differences focus on altering public or elite opinion, or both. These differences can come from outside or within the body politic, or from a combination of both. They may involve diplomacy; propaganda and psychological campaigns; political and cultural subversions; deception of or interference with local media; infiltration of computer networks and databases; as well as effort to promote dissent or opposition movements across computer networks. These ideological campaigns often involve lies, disinformation and manipulation of information on the Internet thus undermining national credibility.
9. A specific form of ideological difference in which Malaysia as a plural society is vulnerable to is in the form of racial , religious or cultural which can lead to a breakdown of the social, political and security fabric of the nation. The differences can come from hostile nations, destructive and irresponsible newsgroups and web-sites located in the country or beyond. To this, I would like to urge the government, private sectors and communities to be wary of this form of attacks and ensure that it does not have any standing in our plural society.
11. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. The government is aware and concerned over the invasion of privacy through the Internet and the need to enhance cyber security at the government, private sectors, organization and individual levels. The government is continuously looking into the development and revisions of the necessary cyber laws and regulations under the Communications and Multimedia Act 1998, the National ICT security standard, and the forthcoming Personal Data Protection Act. The Personal Data Protection Act is expected to regulate the collection, holding, processing and use of personal data by any person so as to provide protection to an individual's personal data and safeguard personal privacy.
12. As more and more businesses are transacted in cyberspace, nations which are slow in latching on to the opportunities provided by e-commerce will be at a serious disadvantage. Developing nations will be burdened with another major obstacle in improving the comparative living standards due to poor communication and multimedia infrastructure and financial burden. The economic divide between nations, which already control the levers of power in the international financial, economic and security institutions, will widen even more. While national companies will also have greater opportunities abroad and at home via the Internet, they will at the same time be more exposed to competition from powerful international corporations and players in what used to be their domestic preserve.
13. Nations are also threatened by the erosion of their cultures by the mass global culture pervading the Internet and the electronic media. The threat is most felt by the non-Western cultures, whose capacities for defence, development and promotion are constrained by factors such as lack of access to global mass media including entertainment and educational television channels. Since culture is at the root of identity, the fears are deep-seated that traditional culture is inadequately protected against the continuous poundings of the "global" culture through the mass media. The young are especially vulnerable.
14. In many ways, culture lies at the heart of national identity and sovereignty. Even as we embrace and enrich ourselves with all that is positive and useful in other cultures, Malaysia should adopt a dynamic policy of nourishing, developing, disseminating and exporting Malaysian culture through the domestic and international electronic media and Internet. To make this happen, Malaysia needs to create more local content that can have a global presence.
15. Displacement of values and priorities is another challenge. The global mass culture brings in its wake what are essentially Western industrialist values and priorities which are sometimes at odds with the values and priorities of the non-Western and non-industrialist world. The non-Western world would most assuredly benefit from assimilating some of the good of the other. Yet a blind and indiscriminate propagation of Western and industrialist values and priorities without due regard to the different cultural and economic contexts of other societies can often bring much disruption, dislocation and instability. Among these values and priorities are individualism over communitarianism, the emphasis on rights without concomitant stress on responsibilities, an adversarial notion of the relationship between citizen and state, permissiveness, and a lack of regard for social harmony and stability.
16. Materials relating to pornography and violence, especially on the Internet is a universal threat to personal morals, healthy character development and the overall fabric of society. Besides laws, the best means of managing this problem is through the inculcation of good moral values and healthy attitudes among the population. The formal and informal education system therefore plays an important part, and Malaysia's education policy already provides for the cultivation of critical thinking and inculcation of good moral values.
17. In this regard Malaysia already possesses a guiding framework in the form of Vision 2020. The more resilient and advanced the country is with regard to being a united nation, a mature democracy, a dynamic and prosperous economy, the more "sovereign" will Malaysia be. It is therefore imperative that Malaysians continue to pursue the goals of Vision 2020 with vigour and determination.
18. The government has also acknowledged the need to address ICT security issues in the country through formation of appropriate institutions. At the 6th NITC meeting in January 1998, the Council approved the creation of the National Network Security and Accreditation Agency. Subsequent deliberations took place which has led to the formation of the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre (NISER) currently hosted by MIMOS Berhad.
19. The establishment of this Centre reflects the nation's commitment towards the need for a specialised team in handling vast and complex areas in ICT security. NISER is is expected to play a major role in promoting good information security practice, advising the nation on ICT security issues which may threaten national security that need prompt attention.
20. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Cyberattacks on financial systems such as electronic banking and payment systems, characteristics of borderless trade and commerce, will tempt hackers. Cyberattacks on defence systems on the other hand involve attacks on strategic information and communication systems that can paralyse Malaysia's defences and cripple key sectors of our country. The explosion of the Internet that has enabled cyberattacks to be carried out easily by hostile nations, groups or even individuals from their home computers making Malaysia even more vulnerable. In response to this threat, the information and communication infrastructure protection is therefore required. To this, and in relation with its formation, it is hope that NISER can play an active role in proposing some measures for the government's consideration.
21. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. Since the rapid growth of the Internet, Malaysian organizations, government and private sector, NGOs, communities and individuals are experiencing some form of breaches from virus to denial of service attacks daily. According to NISER statistics, since August 1997 until March 2001, Malaysia has experienced an accumulated of 1713 ICT security cases with an average of 400 cases a year. This statistic indicates that ICT security cases are not going away and are expected to increase further as the computer literacy rate improves. Conservatively, assuming that for every case detected, there are 50 more cases unreported and another 50 more undetected, the situation surely deserves attention by all. In interconnected national systems, such security violations can have disastrous consequences as the dissemination of problems can happen at an intolerable rate. This phenomenon can be easily manifested through the recent outbreak of computer viruses and available hacking tools on the Internet.
22. The enforcement of cyber law has not been easy. There were occasions where the hackers were caught while intruding online, but the victims refused to make any official police report because of their own reasons. Malaysians should give their fullest cooperation to the law enforcement agencies in performing their duty effectively. Prevention through laws alone may not be sufficient. Organizations should also formulate good security policy and enforce accordingly. Individuals on the other hand should abide by the organization's security policy and be responsible for protecting their own organization's information from being exploited or manipulated. Concerted and collective efforts like this should be nurtured further and would certainly create a good layer of defence that can effectively minimise the risks of information exploitation and enhance the level of the nation's information security.
23. Theft and espionage of vital government and corporate information is a growing phenomenon. The tool for covert interception, evaluation and passing on of domestic and foreign telecommunication transmissions are being rapidly developed. In relation to these threats, there is a vital need for defensive measures covering management and technical processes, complimented by technically capable citizens are taken. It is also important for our nation to be self reliance in core ICT security areas and not to depend solely on foreign based technology.
24. Distinguished guests, ladies and gentlemen. The challenges that I have deliberated at length deals with the sphere of cyberspace. However, securing Malaysia's sovereignty in cyberspace requires concerted and coordinated effort in many areas extending beyond the cyber world. It is only through such comprehensive and balanced development of the material and spiritual that the sinews of Malaysian sovereignty can be strengthened on a sound and viable basis either in the terrestrial or in the cyber world.
25. In conclusion, Malaysia will be confronted with stern tests of the resilience and viability of its sovereignty and identity in the cyber world. The challenges can only grow in scope, importance and sphere of influence in the years ahead. In efforts to fully preserve, protect and promote the nation's sovereignty, integrity and identity, Malaysia must continue to be committed towards developing itself in its own mould, true to its history, traditions and cultures, and be guided by the hopes and aspirations of its people.
26. On that note and with the lafaz "Bismillahir Rahmannir Rahim", I hereby declare that the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre is officially launched.
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Last Update March 11, 2001