Malaysian Parliament hackers took it as a challenge
2nd January 2001 (ZDNetAsia)

The hacking of the official Web site belonging to the Parliament and Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) could have been in response to the Malaysian Government's announcement that it is establishing a special IT security lab and task force.

PETALING JAYA (iStar) - "Announcements like these are often seen as direct challenges by the hacker community," said industry sources who declined to be named.

The Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (Mampu) recently said it would set up an ICT (Information and Communications Technology) Security Lab.

The lab, scheduled to be operational in four months, would work to enhance network infrastructure security in public sector agencies, said the unit in the Prime Minister's Department.

According to Mampu director-general Datuk Muhammad Rais Abdul Karim, the move was initiated in view of the increase in the use of intranet and Internet technologies in the public sector, which in turn had raised the exposure of Government networks to security risks.

"As the Government provides more networked services such as the Electronic Government application, the threat to its IT infrastructure would also increase," he said at the recent signing of an agreement between Mampu and Mimos Bhd to set up the lab.

Ironically, the Parliament Web site was possibly hacked into at about the same time.

Sunday Star reported on Dec 31 that a hacker calling himself "topeira" replaced the Parliament homepage with some foreign words and a Brazilian address on the rock group Garbage.

Industry sources said that hackers thrive on such challenges, pointing to the well-publicised 1996 hacking of local Internet services company AsiaConnect.

The company had boasted of its "tight" network security in a local business magazine, offering RM50,000 to anybody who could hack into its systems.

Computer security specialists Dinesh Nair and Thian Seong Yee did just that, at a demonstration at The Star's office here.

In 1997, the Computer Crimes Bill was enacted, making hacking illegal in Malaysia.

Mimos was tapped for the establishment of the ICT Security Lab as it has the necessary expertise and experience in the field, Mampu said.

Mimos currently runs the Malaysian Computer Emergency Team (MyCERT), which was set up in 1997.

MyCERT could not be contacted over the weekend after reports on the hacking were published.

As at press time, no police report had been filed on the Parliament and UTM Web site hacking.

According to Mampu, the RM1.086mil ICT Security Lab will act as a center for incident response, network monitoring and auditing, and product research.

Mampu would also set up a Government Computer Emergency Response Team (GCERT) that would be responsible for providing technical support for public sector agencies.

The ICT Security Lab's product research activities would focus on commercially available security software to enable it to provide efficient advisory services to public sector agencies, he added.