UNDP: Cyberattacks opened our eyes
2nd June 2005 (The Star)

KUALA LUMPUR: The attack in March by hackers on the United Nations Development Programme website, hosted in Malaysia, has opened the UNDP's eyes to the vulnerability of its ICT systems.

It was part of a month-long wave of cyberattacks attributed to Indonesian hackers who were disgruntled by Malaysian Government actions at that time.

UNDP resident representative Dr Richard Leete said that also vulnerable to attack, and even more essential to the UN agency's activities in Malaysia and the region, are its project documentation and financial records.

He said that if it lost those records, the UNDP's development and humanitarian efforts in this region would "grind to a halt."

Dr Leete also said that other UNDP country offices which have not faced such cyberattacks might not yet understand the seriousness of the problem.

The UNDP follows best-practices guidelines set by UN headquarters in New York, but it must adapt these guidelines to the local situation.

In the aftermath of the website hacks, it called in the National ICT Security and Emergency Response Centre (Niser) to review its procedures and recommend any needed changes.

It has also called in organisations like EC-Council (the International Council of E-Commerce Consultants) to give talks to UNDP staff to educate and and remind them of their responsibilities in ICT security, Dr Leete said.

He said he would also highlight within the UN's worldwide internal management network how Malaysia responded to the cyberattacks as a positive example. - H. AMIR KHALID