Bolstering the world’s cybersecurity, from the heart of Greater KL

13 July 2023

The rapid digitalisation of almost all services during and following the global Covid-19 pandemic, coupled with the influx of new digital users, have led to a rise in cybersecurity threats across the globe. The work-from-home (WFH) and hybrid working arrangements resulted in more employees using personal devices for work purposes, putting both personal and work data at risk.

While Anonymous hacks and Wikileaks may grab the headlines, at the micro level, everyday folks are increasingly falling prey to sophisticated scams that steal their identities or empty their bank accounts. New fintech solutions have exacerbated this issue, with a Deloitte study finding cyberattacks targeting financial apps rising 38% year over year. According to Mordor Intelligence, the global defence cybersecurity market is expected to reach US$28.5 billion by 2026, registering a compounded annual growth rate (CAGR) of approximately 10.5% between 2021-2026, with Asia Pacific as the fastest-growing region.

Even before the pandemic, policymakers and Big Tech corporations had positioned Malaysia as a global 24/7 hub for cybersecurity providers, thanks to its first cybercity, Cyberjaya, being home to a thriving data centre industry in the late 1990s. As early as 2006, Finnish cybersecurity specialist F-Secure picked Greater KL to be the company’s Asia hub, with Malaysian cybersecurity talents working hand-in-hand with security response teams in Helsinki, Finland. Today, F-Secure’s Tactical Defence Unit in Greater KL is supported by a strong pipeline of local cybersecurity talents.

Since then, Malaysian policies and regulations have expanded the capital city’s cybersecurity aspirations and attracted even more investments in the space. Most notably, the Personal Data Protection Act 2010 set an important benchmark for regulating how personal data is processed in commercial transactions and securing privacy concerns within the digital space.

SUPPORTIVE REGULATIONS, POLICIES


Malaysia Cyber Security Strategy (MCSS)


The Malaysian Government launched MCSS 2020-2024 in October 2020 in the midst of the pandemic, allocating RM1.8 billion towards improving the country’s cybersecurity management in the following five years.

Its five pillars are effective governance and management; strengthening legislative framework and enforcement; catalysing world class innovation, technology, R&D, and industry; enhancing capacity and capability building, awareness, and education; and strengthening global collaboration.

Separately, the government has made efforts to increase awareness of the Global Accredited Cybersecurity Education (ACE) Certification Scheme, which outlines the proficiencies of skilled cybersecurity professionals and reinforces the continuous development of these professionals in reducing cyber threats.

Dedicated cybersecurity specialist agency


CyberSecurity Malaysia is the country’s dedicated cybersecurity specialist agency, providing a wide range of services, from responsive and proactive services to outreach and capacity building; strategic study and engagement, and industry and research development.

The agency’s inception goes as far back as 1997 when it was established as the Malaysia Computer Emergency Response Team to address ICT security issues. Over the years, the agency has changed names and added responsibilities, resulting in its existing wide scope as a security provider, industry researcher, and talent developer via partnerships and investments.


Upcoming cybersecurity law, commission


Despite the existence of CyberSecurity Malaysia, the country still lacks one overarching cybersecurity law, a gap that will be bridged by end-2023 or early 2024, when the Government is expected to table the CyberSecurity Act in Parliament.

The new act is set to streamline the national cybersecurity ecosystem and is expected to lead to the formation of a national cybersecurity commission, which would merge NACSA (National Cyber Security Agency) and CyberSecurity Malaysia.

These developments are expected to clarify and bolster Greater KL’s role as a global and regional cybersecurity hub. Another key cog in this plan is ensuring a strong pipeline of cybersecurity talents and local champions forging partnerships with foreign investors to drive technology and foster skills transfer.

PARTNERSHIPS & INVESTMENTS


Velum Labs forges UK bonds

In March 2023, homegrown cyber intelligence and cyber security company Velum Labs partnered with TriCis, a UK-based specialist in designing and engineering highly secure integrated solutions that meet the highest government and military security standards. TriCIS boasts over 40 years of experience and is a supplier to the UK’s Ministry of Defence and NATO.

Under the partnership, Velum Labs and TriCIS will provide cybersecurity capabilities to governments and private sector clients across the region under a UK-Malaysia bilateral agreement. By joining forces with TriCIS, Velum Labs hopes to leap forward in innovation and out-of-the-box solutions that can place Malaysia at the forefront of sovereign telecommunications technology while building technical know-how among local talents.

Securing crypto investments


Given the influx of fintech solutions and prevalence of cyberthreats in the financial space, CyberSecurity Malaysia signed a two-year memorandum of understanding with local crypto exchange MX Global in September 2022. The agreement aims to study security measures for cryptocurrencies and digital asset exchanges.

The MoU will cover collaborations in R&D, joint solution development activities, and training and awareness programmes. Both parties will also explore specific areas that are identified by CyberSecurity Malaysia’s Cryptocurrency Department, with a key focus on blockchain technology.


UTM’s Cyber Innovation Hub


In March 2023, Mastercard announced a partnership with Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) to build a cyber innovation hub. The hub will leverage Mastercard’s cybersecurity expertise alongside UTM’s education infrastructure to offer skills training, and courses on cybersecurity related fields to students and mid-career professionals.

Mastercard and UTM will also collaborate on cybersecurity research and projects to identify new cybersecurity threats, develop solutions, and drive implementation of privacy-enhancing technologies in financial services.
Two months later, Mastercard followed this up by establishing its Data & Services (D&S) hub in Greater KL to serve its Asia Pacific clients in the areas of cybersecurity, credit risk, and data analytics.



Siemens secures energy, utilities sectors


German technology giant Siemens’ energy arm launched its cybersecurity operations centre (CSOC) in Cyberjaya, Greater KL in February 2023. This would be Siemens Energy’s first managed detection response operational technology CSOC in the region, which monitors, detects, and mitigates cyber threats on critical infrastructure such as energy and utilities.

The centre utilises artificial intelligence and cybersecurity experts to provide round the clock monitoring, detection, and crisis support to secure businesses’ operating environment and ensure operational continuity across the Asia Pacific. The CSOC is expected to have an investment inflow of up to RM20 million over the next five years.

Separately, Siemens Energy has collaborated with Universiti Tenaga Nasional (UNITEN) to equip young local talent with the skill sets and tools necessary to become globally competitive cybersecurity professionals.



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