Defence advisers outline cybersecurity agenda

Defence advisers outline cybersecurity agenda

Thailand seen as major target of online attacks

State-backed CAT Telecom is a prime target of international hacker groups. A recent attack prompted an initiative to create a national cybersecurity committee and a national cybersecurity agency. PANUMAS SANGUANWONG
State-backed CAT Telecom is a prime target of international hacker groups. A recent attack prompted an initiative to create a national cybersecurity committee and a national cybersecurity agency. PANUMAS SANGUANWONG

The creation of a national cybersecurity committee and a national cybersecurity agency is vital for Thailand to cope with increasingly complicated and sophisticated threats, says a group of army chiefs in charge of tackling cybercrime.

Having the two national units will help the government coordinate with other state agencies to isolate security vulnerabilities and protect critical infrastructure from attack.

Speaking at a seminar entitled "Thailand Under Cyber Attack", Lt Gen Suttisak Slakcom, a Defence Ministry adviser, highlighted Thailand's dire need of a national cybersecurity framework and a master plan for cybersecurity strategies and policies.

"Thailand is one of the world's top 10 targets for cybersecurity attacks and a haven for cyberterrorism," he said.

The Royal Thai Army, meanwhile, insists that its Cyber Warfare Division, which integrates cybertechnology capabilities, is ready to go into attack mode.

"Cyberconflict is referred to as warfare in the fifth domain," Lt Gen Suttisak said. "We [the armed forces] are ready to enter the fifth domain after land, sea, air and space."

More than 100 countries have a cyberwarfare command.

The government has drafted a national cybersecurity framework and will soon submit it to the cabinet for approval. The cabinet earlier approved a series of bills concerning cybersecurity.

The new cybersecurity law will set up a national cybersecurity framework, a national cybersecurity committee and a national cybersecurity agency.

The national cybersecurity framework draft will outline the structure of the committee, to be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha.

The draft will define the rules of engagement for all levels of the military to cope with threats.

Citing research by the Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team (ThaiCERT), Lt Gen Suttisak said there were 3,546 cyberattack incidents in Thailand during the January-to-September period.

Of the total, 36% involved malicious code causing damage to a computer or a system, while 27% were intrusion and 26% were fraud.

Thailand was among the top 10 targets for phishing attacks in 2012. Hackers also use the country as a base to launch cyberattacks on other countries.

Financial institutions are seeing increased fraudulent activity, and Thai government and educational institution websites have been defaced.

Senior Col Chartchai Chaigasam, director of the cyberwarfare division at the Royal Thai Armed Forces Headquarters, said the military must protect itself from cyberattacks.

The risk of a serious cyberattack is growing. At least 90% of computers in Thailand have been infected with malware that lets an attacker take control of a computer.

Thailand lacks a centralised command dedicated to cybersecurity, Senior Col Chartchai said.

Gen Bunjerd Tientongdee, a special adviser to the Office of the Permanent Secretary for the Defence, Information and Space Technology Department, said Thailand needed to have cybersecurity simulations and cyberattack drills.

Advanced security systems and cybersecurity experts are the vital factors in dealing with cyberattacks.

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