The COVID-19 pandemic has introduced digital adoption spurt to the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) on a scale that has never seen before. In 2020 alone, as many as 40 million people came online for the first time, bringing the total to 400 million Internet users. The surge in Internet penetration in the last two years also contributes to the growth of the digital economy in ASEAN, which is projected to grow to USD 1 trillion by 2030.
As the region is increasingly dependent on the Internet, an imminent danger lurks within in a form of cyberattacks. In its ASEAN Cyberthreat Assessment 2021, Interpol reported that many cyber criminals capitalised on the pandemic to steal personal information and credentials using malicious methods such as phishing and e-commerce data interception. Phishing is one of the cyberattacks that that saw a drastic increase during the pandemic. According to the Interpol’s report, more than 80,000 phishing attacks occurred during the first 9 months of 2020 in ASEAN.
The frequency of cyberattacks will surely increase as ASEAN makes giant strides toward stronger digital society and digital economy in the coming years. In a response to this worrying trend, the ASEAN Foundation with the support of Microsoft launched on 24 February 2022 the ASEAN Cybersecurity Skilling Programme (ASEANCSP) during the “Cybersecurity in ASEAN: Lessons for Youth and How the COVID-19 is Shaping the Every-Evolving Digital Landscape” webinar.
The ASEANCSP aims to combat cybercrimes in ASEAN by raising awareness on the importance of cybersecurity and building greater cybersecurity knowledge among people in ASEAN. The programme aims to deliver training of trainers (ToT) on cybersecurity to 560 youths, educators and NGO and CSO facilitators in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand and Viet Nam in collaboration with local implementing partners. These master trainers will then deliver cybersecurity training to 30,000 underserved youths in the seven countries as a way to contribute to the creation of a safe digital ecosystem in ASEAN.
Apart from the ToT, a regional focus group discussion (FGD) will also be organised, involving experts on cybersecurity issues from public and private sectors. The insights generated from the FGD will be utilised to strengthen the implementation of the ToT as well as to help create a localised training module on cybersecurity that is both effective and applicable. Moreover, an online campaign will also be rolled out to increase awareness on cybersecurity among the public.
“We live in an increasingly connected world and Internet-enabled devices are everywhere. That means opportunities for hacking are everywhere too. We’re seeing a huge skills gap and lack of cybersecurity talent around the world and as an industry, it’s our responsibility to work with educational institutions, help them stay updated on cybersecurity curricula and ensure students are equipped with skills that are current, and in demand. We are proud to be working with the ASEAN Foundation to create and nurture future cybersecurity leaders and advisors across our markets,” said Abbas Kudrati, Chief Cybersecurity Officer, Asia Pacific, Microsoft.
The programme also embodies the commitment of ASEAN leaders to combat cybersecurity threats as stated in the ASEAN Declaration to Prevent and Combat Cybercrime in 2017, which highlighted cyber threats as a fundamental problem that needs to be solved together. Furthermore, the ASEANCSP will also support the priorities of ASEAN Work Plan on Education 2021 – 2025 and ASEAN ICT Masterplan 2020.
“Along with the rise of ASEAN’s interconnected region as well as our digital economy, the risks of cyberthreats are also increasing. With our society shifting more towards digitalisation, and as we become more reliant with digital technologies in our everyday life, having a secured cyberspace should be a priority for all of us. Therefore, we are pleased to partner with Microsoft to implement the ASEAN Cybersecurity Skilling Programme to help build a healthier and more resilient digital ecosystem in the region,” said Dr. Yang Mee Eng, Executive Director of ASEAN Foundation.
The programme launch was also marked by the release of the call for applications for implementing partners to support the training portion of the programme and to assist in selecting the final 560 master trainers. The deadline for this call for applications is on 14 March 2022.
About the ASEAN Foundation
Three decades after ASEAN was established, ASEAN leaders recognised that: there remained inadequate shared prosperity, ASEAN awareness and contact among the people of ASEAN. It was of this concern that ASEAN leaders established ASEAN Foundation in Jakarta, Indonesia, at ASEAN’s 30th Anniversary Summit in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, on 15 December 1997. The ASEAN Foundation is an organisation from and for the people of ASEAN. The Foundation exists because of one vision: to build a cohesive and prosperous ASEAN Community. As an ASEAN body, the Foundation is tasked to support ASEAN mainly in promoting awareness, identity, interaction and development of the people of ASEAN.
NOTES TO EDITOR
For more information, press only:
Anthoni Octaviano, ASEAN Foundation, [email protected], GMT +7