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Asean ministers come to grips with cybersecurity challenges

May 11. 2018
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By Asina Pornwasin
The Nation

2,580 Viewed

Education and a clear protocol are urgently needed for Asean countries to be able to tackle growing cybersecurity threats, Asean Ministers Responsible for Information (AMRI) said yesterday. 

S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for information and Communications, said that digital literacy and cybersecurity were not the same, although they were related.

For cybersecurity, education is needed at every level from the individual to enterprises and government agencies, especially for those operating key infrastructure and services. 

Clear protocols and tools are required to ensure cybersecurity, which is a space that is also very dynamic, he said. That is why constant education is so important, since even at the level of the individual, it would be basic to have some levels of cybersecurity in the personal use of digital devices and the Internet. It is needed to customise solutions as broad messages to everyone to ensure that people understand this is as a real risk.

“Once they understand this basic step, they can take the safe guards into their personal space. Then, we build on that because obviously cyberthreats go well beyond some basic circumstances,” said Isawaran.

Meanwhile, Asean Secretary-General Dato Lim Jock Hoi said that Asean Cybersecurity Cooperation Strategy was endorsed by the Asean Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers because the digital economy is a key growth area for the group. 

There is much work to do to strengthen cybersecurity as a key foundation for the digital economy, he said. 

At the 17th Asean Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers Meeting in November 2017, the ministers reaffirmed the importance of promoting regional cybersecurity collaborations and developing coordinated cybersecurity policies and approaches.

Iswaran said, “A recent survey on the e-economy by Google and Temasek shows that we are the world’s fastest-growing Internet region. The userbase is projected to grow from 260 million in 2016 to 480 million by 2020.”

Meanwhile, the Asean Internet economy made up 2 per cent of the region’s gross domestic product (GDP) in 2017. It is expected to grow three-fold to 6 per cent or $200 billion by 2025.

AMRI will play a pivotal role in leading Asean into the new digital age. Under the theme of the 14th AMRI – an ‘Inclusive and Informed Digital Asean” – there are three goals: growing the Asean digital economy, nurturing an inclusive digital society, and building a trusted digital ecosystem that will support informed people. 

In addition, the ministers endorsed the Asean Communication Master Plan for 2018-25, which would be forwarded to the Asean Community Council for adoption. The masterplan will support Asean’s efforts in implementing all three Asean Community Blueprints: Asean Political-Security Community, Asean Economic Community, and Asean Socio-Cultural Community, to communicate the character of Asean as “people-oriented and people-centred”.

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