Telmin picks Thailand as hub for Asean cybersecurity training

Telmin picks Thailand as hub for Asean cybersecurity training

Thailand was chosen as the hub of Asean cybersecurity training at a recent IT ministers' meeting, and tasked with improving the skills of 1,200 trainees of the security-related agencies of 10 countries by 2021.

The decision, taken at the Asean Telecommunications and IT Ministers meeting (Telmin) in Cambodia last week, aims to create a stronger cybersecurity ecosystem in the region to enable it to cope with increasingly sophisticated threats affecting state agencies, the private sector and digital users.

Digital Economy and Society (DE) Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said Asean governments see cyberthreats as a critical issue that needs to be tackled, as frauds, hacking, system attacks and the use of malware for cybercrime and terrorism become increasingly common.

Telmin's consensus came after an initiative proposed by its Japanese partner, which had been advocating for the development of cybersecurity skills for government officials and Asean agencies' staffs since last year.

"Cybersecurity skills are a core soft infrastructure needed to cope with increasing threats and to jointly resolve new threats when they spread through the region," he said.

Mr Pichet said the development of cybersecurity skills will benefit all Asean countries and also Japan, which has been investing to expand its manufacturing base in many industrial sectors in the region.

Japan is committed to spending US$5 million (163 million baht) on a four-year cybersecurity project starting from next year aimed at increasing these skills.

The DE Ministry has assigned the Electronic Transaction Development Agency (ETDA) as the main operational centre for the cybersecurity training programme.

Mr Pichet said the ETDA established a ThaiCert (computer emergency response team) unit in 2015, to offer government monitoring systems (GMS) to state agencies, which means that the agency has the necessary operational structure to become a hub for the Telmin project.

Additionally, the ministry plans to hold a series of events related to the cybersecurity ecosystem, including a public cyber-attack protection competition.

Next year, the DE Ministry will host a "Cyber SEA Game", an international hacking contest which will also require participants to create anti-hacking systems.

ETDA chief executive Surangkana Wayuparb said the agency is preparing to undertake the Telmin mission.

Mrs Surangkana said Japan will assign its cybersecurity experts to come to ETDA to train cybersecurity staff at the agency and other Asean officials. The agency aims to train 300 cybersecurity experts a year through the programme.

She said cyberthreats have created negative economic and social effects, especially during the implementation of the government's digitally-driven policies. There were more than 4,000 cyber-attacks in country last year, up 10% from 2015.

Among the challenges to effective threat prevention are the lack of security awareness at many levels of management at some state agencies, and citizens' use of pirated software that is not updated with the latest security patches, said Mrs Surangkana.

Mr Pichet said the government is planning to include cybersecurity as a fundamental course in the curriculum of the international university it plans to establish in the Eastern Economic Corridor.

In a related matter, Mr Pichet said the government set up the ad hoc National Cyber Security Committee (NCSC) last month to handle cyberthreats. The cybersecurity draft bill is yet to be considered by National Legislative Assembly.

The ad hoc NCSC committee is chaired by Prime Minister Gen Prayut Chan-o-cha, and includes 30 members representing all economic and society ministries, as well as state agencies and the private sector.

The ad hoc panel will be responsible for the national strategic cybersecurity draft, and enhance communication between agencies and the private sector to handle increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats.

ThaiCert is the committee's main operational workforce.

The ad hoc committee will be officially called the National Cyber Security Commission once the cybersecurity draft bill is put into effect in early 2018.

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