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RM28 million online fraud losses
Published on: Wednesday, November 08, 2023
By: Hayati Dzulkifli, Lisa Aveline Rabenjoro
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RM28 million online fraud losses
Dr Mohd Arifin (3rd left) presenting a memento to the speaker of plenary session 1 Cyber Security Malaysia Chief Information Technology Officer cum Chief Information Security Officer, Dr. Solahuddin bin Shamsuddin while others look on in the event.
Kota Kinabalu: Sabah recorded the highest RM28 million losses for online fraud involving 1,243 cases, as of September, said State Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Datuk Dr Mohd Arifin bin Mohd Arif.

He said this clearly indicated that cybersecurity deserves serious attention and requires appropriate action by all segments of society, including public servants.

Over the past three years, online fraud losses in the State exceeded RM100 million through 4,687 cases.

“Although losses in Sabah are still small compared to the national total, we need to take early and proactive measures to minimise risks and control any cybersecurity incidents from spreading and escalating to  the point of being difficult to manage.

“The state government has placed special emphasis on online fraud issues since 2022 through a series of Cybercrime Awareness Programs among Public Servants,” Dr Mohd Arifin said.

He was opening a two-day BIMP-EAGA Cyber Security Summit 2023 themed ‘AI in Cyber Security: Harnessing the Power, Navigating the Risks’ organised by Sabah State Computer Services Department (JPKN) and Sabah Net (SN), Tuesday.

Dr Mohd Arifin (left) being briefed by one of the exhibitors in the event.

Some 200 participants from digital leaders of the government departments, senior government officers in ICT fields at ministry, department and agencies in Sabah as well as speakers, panellists, exhibitors, and hackathon organisers, among others, from  BIMP-EAGA region.

The state government has implemented various initiatives and programs to strengthen cybersecurity aspects to support its service delivery. 

He said this includes establishment of a dedicated section to manage the cybersecurity ecosystem, at the State Computer Services Department (JPKN) in 2010, with the support of Sabah Net, the state government-owned ICT Company.

“The State government has placed special emphasis on online fraud issues since 2022 through a series of Cybercrime Awareness Programs among Public Servants. 

“To date, six programs have been implemented in Keningau, Sandakan, Tawau, and Kota Kinabalu, reaching around 700 public servants. Plans are afoot to expand these efforts to the general public.

“Overall, this year, the state government carried out 14 training and awareness programs related to cybersecurity, including the conference here on Tuesday,” he said.

Dr Mohd Arifin said public servants must continue to play their role in ensuring comprehensive and secure implementation of the digital government delivery system. 

Therefore, he said all public servants should proactively and swiftly acquire digital knowledge and skills. 

“Please collaborate with the Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation in continuous engagement and cooperation on this matter, in line with the roles of its sub-agencies, JPKN and SabahNet, as implementers of a secure cyber ecosystem.

“Also, I would also like to remind all about the need to regularly update the list of ICT Security Officers (ICTSOs) in your organizations and subsequently inform the National Cyber Security Agency (NACSA) and  JPKN, as required by the Director-General of National Security, National Security Council. 

“This step is essential, as it will facilitate organizational communication with NACSA on current cybersecurity issues,” he said.

On a related issue, Dr Mohd Arifin said the challenges and risks of Artificial Intelligence (AI) on cybersecurity have risen significantly. 

“November 30, 2022, is etched in history as the day when an AI chatbot, known as ChatGPT, was launched. It is  considered a game-changer in the field of AI due to its ability to generate high-quality text that is contextually relevant, making it highly versatile and capable of handling various tasks related to natural language understanding and generation.

“On the flip side, the very same capabilities can be misused to influence users, spread false information, craft and develop malicious source code, launch cyberattacks, or engage in other harmful activities. 

“Furthermore, similar generative AI models have emerged, created by cybercriminals, such as FraudGPT and WormGPT, which are alleged to have the capability to develop malicious software, identify application vulnerabilities, targeting victims, and crafting fake emails,” he said.

On November 1st, this year, he said 28 countries, including the United States, China, India, the United Kingdom, Japan, and the European Union, signed the Bletchley Declaration, the first international declaration on AI, where they acknowledged the potential catastrophic risks that AI could pose to humanity.

He said the Federal Government has also demonstrated due attention to cybersecurity issues through financial commitments. 

In the Federal Budget Speech for 2024 tabled on Oct 13th, 2023, he said the Federal Finance Minister announced, among other things, the following measures:

Accelerating the implementation of National Digital Identity (NDI) to combat the risks of online scams.

Increasing allocation for the National Scam Response Center (NSRC) to combat scam crimes.

Examining the requirement to amend relevant laws to expedite the process of returning funds to scam victims.

Developing a 5G Cybersecurity Testing Framework and Local Expertise in 5G Technology to enhance preparedness against cyber threats.

In June, he said the Prime Minister announced efforts  underway in drafting special legislation related to cybersecurity.

Furthermore, the Minister of Communications and Digital has outlined various plans to strengthen national cybersecurity, including: Establishing the Malaysian Cybersecurity Commission; Determining the need to create a framework to oversee AI technology.

Dr Mohd Arifin said the combined efforts of the State and Federal Governments, as mentioned earlier, clearly demonstrate the government’s commitment to address all cybersecurity needs in the country.

Also present were Permanent Secretary of KSTI Datuk Mohammad Hanafiah bin Mohammad Kassim, Sabah State Computer Services Department cum ICT Security Officer to the Sabah Government Ernywati Dewi Abas, and other senior officials.

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