By JO TIMBUONGbytz@thestar.com.my
KUALA LUMPUR: The International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyberthreats, (Impact) wants to work with the King's College war studies faculty to push the concept of cyberpeace.
"Cyberwarfare is no longer science fiction. The more connected a country is the more vulnerable it is to such threats," said Datuk Mohd Noor Amin Mohd Noor Khan, Impact's chairman.
He said the war studies faculty - one of the best in the world - would be a good place to discuss cyberpeace.
"Preserving peace is one of the subjects studied in that faculty and this will empower our cause," he explained.
Impact wants to collaborate with similar faculties in other institutions to also promote the idea of not doing harm through cyberspace.
Noor Amin was speaking on the sidelines of a series of talks - themed World Questions, King's Answers - in the capital. The talks are organised by King's College, which is in London.
He said Impact has such collaborations with other universities in Europe and Asia, such as the University of Bonn in Germany, University College of Dublin, Ireland, and Universiti Sains Malaysia in Penang.
A collaboration between Impact and these institutes of higher learning is in line with its efforts to build resources by working with various stakeholders to promote cyberpeace and to keep cyberspace from becoming a war zone.
According to Noor Amin, waging a war in cyberspace is much easier and cheaper than fighting conventional battles.
Cyberweapons are not difficult to procure, he said.
"Ready made (software) tools and codes cost anywhere between US$300 (RM900) and US$50,000 (RM150,000), compared to a missile or fighter jet that costs millions. The entry level for cyberwarfare is really low," he said.
Putting up defences
In conjunction with supporting cyberpeace, Noor Amin said countries should also ensure that their respective critical national information (CNI) infrastructure is fully secure from cybercriminals.
"No country is 100% protected against these threats. Skilled resources are in scarce supply and many countries do not have a good set of cyberlaws, making it easy for cybercriminals to operate.
"Correcting these shortcomings is complicated but it needs to be done," Noor Amin said.
In Malaysia, efforts have been taken to harden the country's CNI infrastructure against cybercriminals.
One of the steps taken is the XMaya exercise that equips personnel working in areas deemed critical to the country - such as health, military, public safety, and banking - with the necessary skills to spot and thwart cyberattacks.
Noor Amin said this is a step in the right direction but such efforts need to be ramped up. "No one becomes an expert overnight," he said.
Malaysia is not unfamiliar with cyberattacks.
Last year, many government websites fell victim to a series of denial-of-service attacks by the hacktivist group Anonymous.
Impact is the cybersecurity arm of a United Nations specialised agency, the International Telecommunications Union.
It is headquartered in Cyberjaya.