Dangers of ideological war on Net
By Farid Jamaludin
11th April 2001 (The Star)

KUALA LUMPUR: Ideological campaigns on the Internet could be very damaging if not properly handled by information and communications technology (ICT) authorities, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.

He said these ideological campaigns sometimes involved lies, disinformation and manipulation of information that undermined national credibility.

"In interconnected national systems, such security violations could have disastrous consequences as the dissemination of problems could occur at an uncontrolled rate.

"Critical information systems are presently susceptible to information warfare, espionage, intrusions and denial of service.

"These threats and vulnerabilities in ICT are felt by many nations, including the wealthiest and most advanced,'' he said.

Abdullah, however, said that Malaysians could not afford to turn their backs on modern information, communication and multimedia technology.

"This will only serve to disempower and impoverish our country,'' he added.

He said the Government was committed to ICT development but, at the same time, wanted to ensure it was done in a manner "maximally beneficial and minimally harmful to the nation's sovereignity and vital interests.''

Abdullah also asked Malaysians to be more self-reliant in the core ICT security area and not depend solely on foreign-based technology.

"There is a vital need to have defensive measures covering management and technical processes which can be undertaken by technically capable Malaysian citizens.

"This will create a layer of defence that can minimise the risks of information exploitation and enhance the nation's information security,'' he said.

Abdullah said that theft and espionage of Government and corporate information was a growing phenomenon in the developed world.

"In this direction, the Government is concerned over the invasion of privacy through the Internet and cyber security in government, private sector and individual level,'' he added.

Abdullah said that according to the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre (Niser), Malaysia had 1,713 security breach cases between Aug 1997 to March 2001.

"This works out to about 400 cases a year,'' he said after launching Niser at a leading hotel here yesterday.

His speech was read by Minister in the Prime Minister's department Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.

Abdullah also said statistics indicated that ICT cases were rising every year as the computer literacy rate improved.

"The Government is reviewing the Communications and Multimedia Act, the national ICT security standard, and the forthcoming Personal Data Protection Act to enhance ICT security,'' he said.