Cybersecurity: a responsibility we all share

Ko Arker Nyut Wai

17 May marks the World Telecommunications and Information Society Day. It commemorates the founding of International Telecommunication Union (ITU) on 17 May 1865 when the first International Telegraph Convention was signed in Paris. Since then, the role of telecommunications in society has moved from an interesting innovation to an essential part of everyday life for all of us. In the time of COVID-19, more so than any time earlier.
It’s first of all evident in network traffic: we call more, consume more data and spend infinitely more time in video meetings. Myanmar is no exception. But as we all spend more time online, so do all kinds of cyber hustlers and scammers. Phishing emails, fake news and various types of tips and information utilizing our interest and concern for COVID-19 has surged during the past couple of weeks. Uncertain times unfortunately provide criminals golden opportunities.
Internet services were introduced in Myanmar in 2000 and the telecommunications sector was liberalized in 2013. Today there are more connections than people in Myanmar, and only during the year 2019 the number of connections increased by 10 million. Today, 4 in 10 people in Myanmar have an internet connection, and the country is among the world’s fastest growing data markets. In 2013 there were only 2 cases of cyber related crimes reported, five years later the number stood at 744. Scanning and malware attacks are among the most frequently reported in Myanmar.
A lot can be done with technology to reduce cyber threats, but it is us humans, users, who are the weakest points in our cyber defence. Humans can be tricked into clicking or accepting requests by utilizing our curiosity or our desires. These seven rules can help you protect yourself and your loved ones from harm:
1. Be skeptical to information online: if the claims made sound shocking or outrageous, the information may be designed to provoke and may be false. Check your sources.
2. If you receive an offer that is too good to be true, it usually is. Verify that the sender is who they claim to be.
3. Before clicking links in emails, verify the URL and the sender.
4. Be wary of unknown messages urging you to open attachments.
5. Be skeptical of requests to provide sensitive information such as username, password or credit card details.
6. If you observe suspicious activities, report them to your network administrator or internet service provider.
7. Take security training and stay updated.
What if the communication infrastructure that we have grown so dependent on, was not reliable, not stable, or could not be trusted? Life would have been very different indeed. As the digital world evolves, moving more and more critical services into cyberspace and cloud solutions, there will always be individuals and groups that see this as an opportunity for crime or other illicit activities.
According to the IBM X-Force 2020 report, over 8.5 billion records were compromised globally in 2019, more than a doubling compared to 2018. Ransomware was up 67% in Q4 of 2019 in a year-on-year assessment. This happens across a multitude of industries, ranging from government to
healthcare, manufacturing, and telecom.
Telenor has established a global programme to strengthen our security to be able to detect, resist, and if required evict threat actors attacking our mission-critical networks. We also ensure the safety of users by offering advanced value-added services to protect against more sophisticated attacks or advanced malwares.
We all share a responsibility to ensure that the digital societies, the digital economies and the digital lives we lead are safe and secure. We’re committed to doing our part.
Happy Telecoms Day!

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