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Why Malaysia Is Suddenly Becoming A Cybersecurity Hotspot For The Rest Of The World

Since as early as 2014, Malaysia has been considered to be in the Top 10 states when it comes to cybersecurity, according to the Global Cybersecurity Index.

Despite what many may think, the Asian nation has been a quiet leader in cybersecurity for quite some time –and ready to seize the moment

With the newest report released this past Tuesday, Malaysia came in at number eight out of 194 states in this year’s index, released by the International Telecoms Union (ITU)–  a United Nations agency.

Despite what many may initially think, the Asian nation has been a quiet leader in cybersecurity for quite some time, due to its policy infrastructure, which has been supported by an ongoing commitment to cybersecurity issues and maintaining a solid national strategy.

The critical national information infrastructure

Malaysia’s first cybersecurity policy dates back at least 15 years, giving rise to what is today’s Critical National Information Infrastructure – a portal for sharing information and a coordination and command centre that addresses the nation’s cybersecurity crises, evaluating threat levels on a regular basis.

One of the most appealing aspects of the country’s model is X-Maya, annual drills that are run to test the nation’s readiness and ability to address security incidents.

While this isn’t necessarily unique to the Asian nation, the ongoing assessment and commitment to running these drills demonstrate the nation’s ability to continue growing its position as a cybersecurity leader.

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Behind its No. 8 power ranking, Malaysia achieved a top score in three of the five categories used by the ITU:

  • A legal framework for handling security and crime;
  • Capacity measures based on R&D, education and training, and
  • International partnerships and information sharing.

But no system is perfect, as the country is still lacking in some technical areas, particularly when it comes to its own internal hygiene-related proficiencies.

When it comes to defensive tactics, the country is relatively week, according to analysts from Harvard Kennedy School’s Belfer Center.

In other words, a good offence requires a strong defence. Malaysia’s ability at destroying and/or disabling a hostile infrastructure is less than satisfactory, compared to countries like Russia and the US.

Countries such as China and Singapore are leading when it comes to the defence of government and national assets and systems.

In May, Microsoft announced the launch of the Asia Pacific Public Sector Cybersecurity Executive Council to help unify policymakers from government and state agencies.

The purpose, according to the US software vendor, is to establish better communications between these organisations and facilitate the sharing of best practices, including a better exchange of threat intelligence and technology in a “timely and open manner.”

Upon the launch of the Executive Council, 15 policymakers from Singapore, Indonesia, South Korea, Malaysia, Thailand, Brunei, and the Philippines have joined the council.

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The significance of bringing policymakers to the table is the opportunity to meet virtually every quarter to establish a “continuous” sharing of information on cyber threats and cybersecurity products.

The collective intelligence amongst the Asia Pacific nations is crucial to helping bridge the gap and balance policy and projection moving forward, as discussed in CPO Magazine.

Compared to most countries in the Middle East, Malaysia sits in a very powerful position, but certainly has some work to do. “You have to invest in diplomacy,” said Greg Austin, IISS’s Senior Fellow for Cyber, Space and Future Conflict.

“If you’re a tier-three country, you cannot be secure in cyberspace without securing the support of stronger countries who can help you.”

Source: e27

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