BtCIRT advocates online users on cyber security
Bhutan Computer Incident Response Team (BtCIRT) is now going to create awareness among different levels of online users on issues such as cyber bullying, identity theft, anonymous account and circulation of fake news.
BtCIRT was formed in 2016 with the mandate to ensure online system security and also act as a central point of contact on cyber security-related issues in the country.
Senior ICT officer of BtCIRT, Pema Dhendup, said that the target group for the awareness drive are class VI to XII students moving on to college students and institutes and then decision makers. “Technologically, the team can never combat problems of multiple cyber attacks and bullies. However, the best method at the moment is creating mass awareness, he said.
Pema Dhendup added that human resources and social media policy is a problem right now, therefore advocacy remains a priority.
BtCIRT has toured the 20 dzongkhags creating awareness and has conducted security workshops, published articles and alerts on latest cyber trends, threats, vulnerabilities and best practices.
Pema Dhendup added that with the start of the 12th Five Year Plan, the team will collaborate with the economic affairs ministry to inform users about cyber wellness. The team will target 63 central schools, eight technical institutes and 16 colleges advocating child online protection. “Since it’s a sensitive issue, we will be carrying out the plans with a low profile.”
BtCIRT in collaboration with Ministry of Economic Affairs will carry forward the national cyber safety programs.
The focus will be on the child first and studying the problems faced by online users. Later, the team will draw the strategies and user guidance to improve the level of cyber security.
“We will collect sampling from around the country and frame specific guidance for online users.”
One of the biggest threats to Bhutanese democracy and society has been the growing spread of fake news and hate speech, especially on social media.
While the country is preparing for rigid cyber security through incident simulation exercise, rising incidences of fake news and anonymous accounts remain a challenge.
At the grass root level, fake news has been a menace to truth and the mainstream media. It has impacted the political and social spheres globally. Bhutan has been struggling with the problems that accompany an explosion of social media users.
Towards the end, the Ministry of Information and Communications (MoIC) in collaboration with International Telecommunication Union organized a cyber security incident simulation exercise in Thimphu on Tuesday.
The MoIC minister, Karma Donnen Wangdi, said the dependence on digital infrastructure and cyberspace makes online users inherently vulnerable. “The methods used by malicious actors are rapidly evolving. Bhutan is not an exception to such attacks,” he said.
The simulation exercise was held to create awareness among decision makers on cyber security and it highlighted the need for interventions and policies that can help strengthen cyber security.
All 205 gewogs have access to mobile services and the government has made available online services such as the G2C, G2B, G2G and other online services as well.
“Therefore the ICT is vulnerable to cyber threats,” said a MoIC official.
The Director of Cybercrime Research Institute, Dr Marco Gercke, said that criminals usually conduct open source intelligence survey to find out the vulnerabilities and technologies used. “The transparency of the information published in Bhutan makes it more likely for the country to become a victim,” he said.
The simulation exercise was also aimed to educate officials on the potential threats and preparedness to make critical decisions in response to cyber attacks.