As one cyber expert says, “Nobody is safe in the digital world and even the smartest minds in the cyber security world constantly struggle to fend off hackers in their personal lives”.
According to analysts, there are 2.75 billion Internet users worldwide, of which 1.27 billion are in the Asia-Pacific region. The instant connectivity among the wired global community has brought not only new opportunities but also new challenges, in which criminals and malicious actors have become increasingly active in cyber space.
A Centre for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) report suggests that “malicious activity in cyberspace, which could inflame existing tensions or increase misperception and miscalculation among governments of the intent and risk of cyber actions, poses the greatest cyber risk to security in Asia”.
Defence experts have often noted that the realm of Information and cyberspace present a major non-traditional security challenge. Unlike traditional security areas, cyberspace issues are transnational in nature. They cannot be handled by any one country alone.
As it is right now, studies have shown that losses incurred from cyber security crimes amounted to a staggering US$152 billion worldwide last year.
With this worrying trend, it has become extremely crucial for ASEAN in the past years to work together in restraining threats like these, for the sake of peace and stability of our region.
Asean needs to put priority in formulating initiatives to tackle emerging cyber threats both domestically and internationally. These would include the sharing of best-practices, and the conduct of professional exchanges and education on cyber security, as well as streamlining efforts in enhancing cyber security between different policy areas.
We have been quite silent on this cyber threat issue for some time. It is time that Asean must now contribute to the debate and the evolution of necessary laws to govern cyber security, before it’s too late.