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5 February, 2018 00:00 00 AM

Protection against cyber attack

We must recognize that there are significant challenges that can make it difficult for the public sector to effectively address cyber security issues
Rayhan Ahmed Topader
Protection against cyber attack

Microsoft’s most recent Security Intelligence Report (SIR) shows Bangladesh and Pakistan to be most at risk of malicious software attacks.The bi-annual global report from the first quarter of 2017 reveals the most vulnerable nations prone to cyberattacks. The in-depth study gives insights into the global threat landscape, with individuals sometimes finding themselves having to pay huge amounts to cybercriminals just to access their own devices.The other at-risk countries ranking behind Bangladesh and Pakistan are Cambodia and Indonesia. An approximate one in four computers running Microsoft real-time security products in these countries reported a malware encounter in 2017.Few things in the world seem to progress faster than technology But despite technology’s inexorable march forward, security almost always seems to be a generation behind. As society and industry become more dependent on internet-connected devices, and the online world becomes a central and underlying component of the physical world, the significance of cyberse curity increases commensurately. No longer can security be left to IT departments and security groups within companies. Rather, it requires engagement at the highest levels of both industry and government .The private sector on its own cannot create a culture that emphasizes security practices, realign financial incentives that reward speed over security, or mend trust deficits with the public sector. However, together with the public sector, these challenges can be addressed to change the culture and incentives of security best practices.

Before that can happen, though, we must recognize that there are significant challenges that can make it difficult for the public sector to effectively address cyber security issues. Three particularly important issues stand out :International fragmentation: Differences in approaches to cyber security, data jurisdiction, and legal enforcement (not to mention culture, language and politics) across jurisdictional and territorial boundaries can make it hard to effectively prevent, investigate, and prosecute cyber attacks International norm-setting: International political differences and country-specific agendas can make it difficult to develop a consensus when it comes to the norms around cyber security, let alone enforce those norms consistently and effectively. Roles with respect to the private sector: The varying and sometimes confrontational roles that the public sector must play from regulator to information sharer nd collaborator can create tensions with the private sector that can be counterproductive to trust and cooperation .Similarly, there are numerous challenges that can make it difficult for the private sector to effectively address cyber security issues, including two particularly important obstacles The developing of a new trend of online crimes in the country has raised our concern. Through using different social media platforms, these criminals who also have links with international gangs and masterminds are entrapping common users, who lack sufficient knowledge about using cyber space safely, to squeeze out money.To their great help too, banking channels are being used on an indiscriminate manner.

In a number of cases we have seen people have been robbed of a huge amount of money by some local fraud gangs in collusion with their international brains through introduction on Facebook. Even though a few gangs could have been possible to nab by the law enforcers, these incidents have left for us room to think sincerely about the all-important cyber security issue. Risks have developed for the netizens commensurate with the flourish of infinite opportunities in the cyber world. No doubt, Internet has brought about a revolutionary change in our life. With the assistance of digital tools, it has made almost everything available on a finger tip. People need not physically visit to buy things. Rather the items are delivered to them within moments after paying money through different electronic gateways. But at the same time, Internet has also opened up windows for cyber criminals who are using the means illegally and making general users destitute through cyber-extortion. Misalignment of incentives for cyber security best practices: Companies often fail to take basic steps to protect their systems and their users. Companies are placed in the difficult position of balancing the market pressures of rapid innovation against sustained investments in cyber security, which may raise costs or delay delivery of products to market. Today’s software and hardware environments are increasingly complex ecosystems populated by a network of interacting devices, networks, people and organizations.

This means cyber security solutions often require the voluntary engagement, cooperation and investments of many independent entities, while the incentives and mechanisms for taking such actions are distributed inconsistently across the ecosystem. For example, if a significant vulnerability in common and free software is disclosed, every device using that software should be patched as soon as possible. Even if the patch is available immediately, nobody can force updates by individual server owners, and unsecure devices remain available for a long time.Additionally, there are obstacles that impede public-private sector collaboration on cyber security issues, including trust deficits between the government and the private sector, the challenge of maximizing the effectiveness of government interventions while balancing security objectives with fast-paced innovation, and the weakness of existing information-sharing frameworks These powerful tensions within the ecosystem make it clear that systemic changes are necessary to realign approaches to cyber security. The public and private sectors must come together in several ways, for example through blended governance approaches or holistic cyber security education.They should collaboratively construct effective regulations and frameworks that address cyber security needs without hampering innovation or diminishing trust. Blended or collaborative governance allows the public and private sector to address cyber security threats together.

For example, in the energy sector, dissident groups or terrorist organizations continue to seek ways to cause disruption, and the blended governance approach of tight collaboration between public and private entities is the best solutions to defend the critical infrastructure. Similar collaboration should apply for education, as the private and public sectors together bridge the knowledge gap for both technical and non-technical employees. There are steps that both the private and public sector can take right now to begin to address cyber security challenges.

These include: Adopting best practices and cyber hygiene: An important first step is developing policies and procedures that include regularly validating approved hardware and authorized software, establishing security system configurations, timely patching of applications and operating systems, controlling and auditing user privileges, and educating users. Improved authentication: Organizations must move beyond insecure passwords to mechanisms such as two-factor authentication and continuous authentication technology, which will become increasingly important as more devices connect to our networks .It is critical that organizations take steps to prepare for eventual attacks, including enhancing forensic capabilities, developing business continuity plans, and developing plans for regaining user trust. With the world more digitally interconnected than ever before, cyber security in the Fourth Industrial Revolution will face critical challenges and opportunities.

Only collaborative efforts to make more innovative and strategic frameworks between governments, companies, civil society and academia will better secure  our digital ecosystem. More specifically, cooperation between public and private sectors has a significant role to play in the evolution of a secure future. Cyber crimes, in the forms of hacking, cracking, information and identity theft, spamming, phishing scams, viruses, malware and so on, have now flooded the world of Internet. Right at this instant, what is most necessary is establishing a secure cyber world for the users. Yes, some gangs have already been neutralized but there are thousand other instances where no action could have been taken at all, or the perpetrators have remained out of reach. So, alongside nabbing the crime doers, a strong online surveillance system should work round the clock in order to hold them just at the initial stage. Banking channels should be even stricter so that criminals cannot use them to cheat on people. General users have to be more conscious about their doings online. They should personally know people whom they are intending to have friendship with on Internet. It is awareness which can best tackle unnecessary harassment and safeguard themselves. In the same way that enterprise works to increase revenue and become leaders in the market, cyber attackers do the same. However, there are preventative measures employed by operating system and app developers like Microsoft, to keep your information safe.

The writer is a specialist on cyber security issues, raihan567@yahoo.com


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Editor : M. Shamsur Rahman
Published by the Editor on behalf of Independent Publications Limited at Media Printers, 446/H, Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1215.
Editorial, News & Commercial Offices : Beximco Media Complex, 149-150 Tejgaon I/A, Dhaka-1208, Bangladesh. GPO Box No. 934, Dhaka-1000.

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