Stronger digital defences urged



THAILAND will face a significant increase in cyber-security challenges in the next few years as the country moves towards the digitalisation of its economy and society, according to Richard A Clarke, a former chief adviser to four United States presidents.

Clarke, now CEO of Good Harbour LLC, a cyber-security specialist, yesterday told an international symposium on cyber security organised by the National Broadcasting and Telecommunications Commission (NBTC) that Thailand needs to sharply boost the number of computer security experts in coming years to manage the risks associated with the fast-growing digital economy.

During a question-and-answer session with Suthichai Yoon of Nation Multimedia Group, Clarke also urged Thailand to quickly develop the best practices on cyber security and related audits covering both the public and private sectors’ digital networks.

In addition, Clarke said, Thailand has to increase its spending on computer security, which remains relatively low around the world. At present, most countries and major companies spend only 3-5 per cent of their IT budget on cyber security which is not enough. Clarke suggested that spending has to increase to around 10 per cent of the IT budget.

According to the NBTC, the digitalisation of the Thai economy and society has gained a strong momentum over the past few years, with a nationwide popularity of social media platforms such as Facebook and Line whose number of Thai users have risen to 44 million and 33 million, respectively. In addition, there are now a total of 8 million accounts using the PromptPay e-payment platform.

As a result, the government and private sector need to work together to boost their cyber-security efforts to mitigate risks which would be rising to a new high level due to the increased online access of Thai consumers, companies and public services.

 Internet of Things (IOT) devices, cloud computing, big data and artificial intelligence will be expanding rapidly in the next few years, exposing the economy and society to greater cyber-risks.

ACM Prachin Jantong, deputy premier, told the conference that the government is setting up a national cyber-security committee to be chaired by the prime minister. The high-powered body which will consist of all top officials responsible for national security, economic and social well-being is expected to be functional by end of this month.

In addition, the country will formulate a master plan on cyber security and work with other countries on cross-border cooperation under the Asean Cyber-Security Framework.

According to Clarke, who previously advised four former US presidents, including Barack Obama, Bill Clinton and George W. Bush, the cyber-security challenges are expected to increase sharply in the next three years when the number of Internet-connected devices around the world will likely jump six times from the current 5 billion to a total of 30 billion.

Clarke also said that most boards of directors and CEOs around the world are still unaware of cyber-security threats and that top management need to realize that cyber security is now a major element of their corporate risk management.

Besides insufficient IT security budgets, Clarke also said there is a big shortage of cyber-security personnel around the world, with the US alone needing as many as 100,000 people with cyber-security training. In the case of Thailand, he said, the country will need several thousands of cyber-security personnel in coming years so the education sector should aim to produce more graduates with cyber-security degrees.


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