Thailand’s cybersecurity chief pinpoints emerging online threats
The ever-evolving landscape of cybersecurity transcends the boundaries of individual companies, as recent ransomware attacks have demonstrated
Such attacks ripple across the global supply chain, causing disruptions in production and distribution networks.
In an exclusive interview, Amorn Chomchoey, Secretary General of the National Cyber Security Agency (NCSA), shared critical insights into the state of cybersecurity in Thailand.
Amorn noted that cybersecurity awareness is on the rise, not just in Thailand but globally.
"Ransomware now generates more revenue than the illegal drug trade," he said.
In the United States alone, the cost of online scams amounts to a staggering US$ 10.3 billion, or 5% of Thailand's GDP annually.
The majority of these scams are perpetrated by romance scammers and involve tricking victims into investing in crypto wallets.
This pattern is observed worldwide, where cybercriminals typically lure victims into taking certain actions, including falling in love or making investments in fake platforms.
Ransomware attacks, another prevalent threat, can have a cascading effect on multiple companies, not just the targeted organisation.
The top three categories of cyber damage by value in Thailand are ransomware, unsafe websites, and illicit links embedded in government websites.
Highlighting a significant talent gap in Thailand's cybersecurity workforce, Amorn mentioned that only 0.5% of Thai bureaucrats are in the IT field and an even smaller fraction work in cybersecurity. Addressing this shortfall is crucial for strengthening national cybersecurity.
The interview also shed light on various types of online scams, such as fake personal loan applications that harvest personal information and contact lists, scams that involve tricking individuals into working online, and transferring small amounts of money initially, only to see them vanish after larger sums are requested. While romance scams were described as the most financially damaging in the cyber world,
There is a common misconception that investing in cryptocurrency or blockchain is inherently safe. This is far from accurate. Amorn emphasised that raising awareness about cybersecurity among the general public is pivotal.
He shared insights from US research indicating that 50% of people can avoid online scammers by not engaging with them at all. The remaining 50% are more susceptible, with 10% falling victim to scams.
The NCSA aims to increase the safety of those who interact online by raising the number of those who have not been scammed from 90% to 99%.
Amorn said it was important not to talk to strangers online, as the chances of recovering money lost to scams are rare, and this often leads to severe consequences, including suicide.
To address the cybersecurity talent gap, the NCSA initiated the Thailand Cyber Top Talent 2023 programme, now in its third year. This initiative includes workshops for beginners to educate and train individuals in cybersecurity.
The competition drew 800 teams and 2000 participants. The majority of those who joined were high school students. Some were sent to cyber competitions in Singapore, Indonesia, and Japan.
Thailand won six out of 10 matches at the Asean Cyber SEA Games.
However, Vietnam is the most important rival in Asean since the government requires a set number of people to graduate in the IT area each year (10,000 people).
In terms of regional cybersecurity rankings, Amorn noted that Singapore leads, followed by Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam. Thailand is still in the early stages of increasing awareness.
For those interested in learning more about cybersecurity, the NCSA offers e-learning courses and certificates on its website: [https://www.ncsa.or.th/].
Huawei is a key sponsor of this initiative.