Thailand Fortifies Cybersecurity for a Seamless ASEAN Connected to the World

BANGKOK, July 2, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- "Seamlessly connected" is how ASEAN aspires to facilitate and expand people-to-people interactions among its diverse population and build a common community with a shared sense of ownership. Thailand, as the Chair of ASEAN, has a vision of "Advancing" the Community to the future towards a digital ASEAN and is fully aware that digital technology and cybersecurity will contribute to the success of ASEAN, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Thailand states.

Thailand, as the 2019 Chair of ASEAN, wants to ensure cybersecurity is at the heart the “Seamlessly connected” digital ASEAN
Thailand, as the 2019 Chair of ASEAN, wants to ensure cybersecurity is at the heart the “Seamlessly connected” digital ASEAN

But in reality, not everything in the digital world is trustworthy. Fake news, spam mail and malware are some of the contaminated data that can spread easily from one corner of the world to another in just a click. Cybersecurity has therefore become a new cause of common concern among ASEAN Member States. There is an urgency for ASEAN to work together to speed up its preparation to cope with the Fourth Industrial Revolution or 4IR that will disrupt every aspect of our lives.

According to the situation and vision, Thailand has organised knowledge sharing events on 4IR and cybersecurity. These knowledge-sharing conferences are one of many steps towards bridging the public and private sectors in cybersecurity, and laying a firm foundation for public - private partnership to combat cybersecurity threats.

In January 2019, the Ministry of Commerce of Thailand and the ASEAN Secretariat organized the "Special Session on 4IR". In March 2019, the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society hosted the ASEAN Digital Ministers' Retreat. More recently, in May 2019, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, together with the Ministry of Digital Economy and Society of Thailand, co-hosted the "International Conference on Cybersecurity: Implications on Peace and Security in the ASEAN Region". At this conference, H.E. Mr. Chaisiri Anamarn, Advisor to the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Thailand, delivered the opening remarks and highlighted that as "digital vulnerabilities have been widely exploited by criminal groups", promoting cybersecurity must be a "whole of nation endeavour and at the regional level, requires a whole of ASEAN approach".

What Thailand learned from the most recent International Conference on Cybersecurity in May, is that stepping up security awareness at the government level is essential. More specifically, governments need to understand the risks involved, so that they can expand awareness and disseminate information to the general public. In addition, governments should be able to educate the society in laymen terms, and to determine how to address different target groups, such as university students, and employees of government agencies and private sector, so that they may know how to protect themselves against cyber threats.

It is encouraging that ASEAN has several mechanisms on cybersecurity. This includes ASEAN Ministerial Conference on Cybersecurity (AMCC), ASEAN Telecommunications and Information Technology Ministers' Meeting (TELMIN), ARF Inter-Sessional Meeting on Security of and in the Use of Information and Communication Technologies, and the ASEAN Defence Ministers' Meeting with Dialogue Partners (ADMM-Plus). These ASEAN-centred platforms reflect efforts to develop a regional framework to cope with cybersecurity challenges, to share best practices and to come up with a joint plan, as well as to establish a common ground for the development of voluntary norms to guide state behaviour.

Combatting cybersecurity is a shared responsibility for sustainable security and economic development. Countries around the world are keen to embrace opportunities of the digital age and get on board the digital economy, yet they must be aware of the threats involved and how technology can also be applied to operate military attacks and cybercrime.

In February 2019, Thailand passed the Cybersecurity Act to protect the country's Critical Information Infrastructures (CIIs). CIIs refer to computers and computer systems used by government agencies or the private sector to protect national security or provide essential services, such as finance and banking, energy and healthcare. This list will be eventually expanded to cope with cybersecurity threats more effectively.

By sharing knowledge and raising awareness in this field, ASEAN is gradually, yet steadily moving closer to becoming a digitalized Community in more aspects ranging from Smart Cities to digital economy for the benefits of the whole region. Moreover, ASEAN can fulfill these objectives successfully while being mindful and cautious of the challenges that it can face.

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