Cyber Awareness For Digital Revolution

 

Quick rush into the fantasy of the digital world may result in new anxiety and panicking on matters that users could not comprehend and manage. Victims of cyber incidents were just powerless in protecting themselves against those threats that overwhelm their knowledge of digital technology. 

We observed the gap of adopting and adapting digital technology is getting larger ever since the new normal as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreaks. Hence we believe the most crucial effort we can carry out at this very moment is to put together our knowledge from years of cybersecurity studies to design security awareness programs specifically for the layman, targeting at the most vulnerable group of organisational users, non-technology savvy users as well as novice home users.

 

We believe in creating strong awareness at every stage of day-to-day digital usage for every user is the most effective way of preventing cyber threats.

The Adopt and Adapt Gap of Digital Revolution

The Unstoppable Transformation

The transformation into the digital era has been paved by the increasing popularity of Internet usage and the widespread of social media. The use of digital communication in daily living has slowly become the norm. The rapid rise of smart device sales in the past 10 years has also put access to the Internet at almost everyone’s fingertips. For the scenario in Malaysia, as of 2020, the Internet and social media penetration rate have exceeded 80% of the population. The Covid-19 pandemic outbreak struck in March 2020 has put the entire country into strict movement control where  all  face-to-face  activities  were  being  forbidden.  Over  the  night,  all activities where possible shall take advantage of the digital technology to accomplish, that includes educational activities, work from home, shopping, food ordering, payment for services, etc, in order to reduce the amount of physical contact that could contract the disease.

 

The Covid-19 outbreak and the countermeasures taken by the authorities have directly accelerated the quick adoption of digital technology as well as increase the frequency of being online most of the time. The dissemination of information was heavily relying on digital communication channels as well as social media, making smartphones our new best friend ever since. The implementation of contact tracing using smart apps, online learning and meeting using video conferencing software, shopping and food ordering via online platforms, making payment and fund transfer using electronic wallets and online banking, have quickly become part of our daily living since the appearance of Covid-19. Whether we have to master the digital technology or not, the Covid-19 just push its way through all previous digital adoption barriers, to make everyone a resident in the digital era. The virus outbreak in another perspective is a good way to accelerate the adoption of technology to fill the void required to adhere to the Sarawak Digital Economy strategy and its transformation.

The Threats and Damages of Transformation

The positive perspective of such rapid adoption of digital technology would be to quickly move the entire nation to be part of the digital ecosystem and to take full advantage of what the digital platform is offering. It can be seen as a positive sign of national development but such a rush adoption does create additional challenges and gaps between adoption and adaption. The digital platform is sailing on an uncontrolled ocean off the Internet where no single authority has absolute power over it. No one knows what is to expect coming from the other side of the ocean and certainly, no one is completely ready to face what is about to come from the Internet. Digital threats can come from any corner of the Internet and it can strike in no time and at any time. A smart device that is connected to the Internet, not only be able to access all information and services offered by the network but is also exposed to all sort of possible threats coming through the same digital platform.

 

Since March 2020, the frequency of cyber threats has reached its new height as more incidents have been reported every day. Within the first month of the Movement Control Order (MCO) implementation in Malaysia, there were 838 incidents reported to CyberSecurity Malaysia and it was a rose to 82.5% for the same period of the previous year. The threats were coming from various digital communication channels such as emails, SMS, instant messengers, etc, including famous social media platforms. The breaches of online account security, frauds, and scams were among the notorious threats targeting directly at the end-users. Victims of cyber incidents were just powerless in protecting themselves against those threats that overwhelm their knowledge of digital technology. Users are not just playing the victim role but the weakest link that creates vulnerability in the entire digital ecosystem that could cause chaos to the system itself. 

The Vulnerable Online Users

The digital transformation is a general-purpose technological revolution that impacting almost everyone and changes the living of every household. The new digital revolution spikes by the massive adoption of mobile smart devices have enabled threats to come directly and immediately to the personal space of each user. Phishing of personal account information and scams would have a higher success rate if the users being targeted are not paying strict attention to the potential threats. A lot of digital residents are still not getting used to the nature of digital and online platforms where a lot of things can be digitally faked and new knowledge is required in order to tell the difference. With the fast-evolving cyber threat patterns and the low security awareness among digital residents, many users are defenseless targets of cyber threats and it is just a matter of time when the attacks get them. The consequences can be devastating as its impact could be worse than being robbed daylight because the victims of cyber threats could lose all their hard-earn money even by just staying at home. In rural areas, the group of digital users who have relatively low digital knowledge and experience in cyber threats will certainly be an easy target in most cyberattack incidents.

The only way is Cyber Awareness Education

Adopting digital technology can be as easy as just buying a smart device and subscribe to the Internet service, but to fully adapt to the nature of the digital ecosystem, it takes time, knowledge, and experience in order to take advantage of the digital system instead of being harm badly by the same system. Quick rush into the fantasy of the digital world may result in new anxiety and panicking on matters that users could not comprehend and manage. We observe the gap of adopting and adapting digital technology is getting larger ever since the new normal as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic outbreaks, hence we believe the most crucial effort we can carry out at this very moment is to put together our knowledge from years of cybersecurity studies to design security awareness programs specifically for the layman, targeting at the most vulnerable group of organizational users, non-technology savvy users as well as novice home users. We believe in creating strong awareness at every stage of day-to-day digital usage for every user is the most effective way of preventing cyber threats. Only by strengthening the user awareness towards cyber threats, social anxiety and technological disruption can be reduced to the minimum hence bringing more benefits, improvements, and development through a safer digital adoption experience.

Information Infrastructure Group
Faculty of Computer Science and Information Technology
University Malaysia Sarawak
© 2008-2020 CE Tan All Rights Reserved.
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