BtCIRT ad­vo­cates on­line users on cy­ber se­cu­rity

Business Bhutan - - Nation - Phub Dem From Thim­phu

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.

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