Cybersecurity must be ensured with no further delay

EditorialProthom Alo illustration

Digital systems have become indispensable with the advancement of technology. Digital transformation has taken place rapidly at a state, social and even individual level in Bangladesh, but at the same time, concerns about cybersecurity loom large.

Given its geopolitical standing, the issue of cybersecurity has always been a challenge for Bangladesh. After the Covid pandemic, when the global economy was on the path of revival, the conflicts in Europe  and the Middle East have pitched Bangladesh's security challenge into further challenge. Attempted cyberattacks on government, private and financial institutions continue, indicating a serious weakness in our cybersecurity.

According to Prothom Alo reports, the BGD e-Government Computer Incident Response Team (BGD e-GOV CIRT) under the government's ICT division, recently published the 'Bangladesh Cyber Threat Landscape Report 2022'. The report stated that among the countries of the Pacific region, Bangladesh is a possible target of cybersecurity attack.

The CIRT report indicates that government organisations, the financial sector, military establishments, the industrial sector, trade and commerce, the health sector, start-ups and the energy sector are all vulnerable to cyberattacks. Of the cyberattacks or attempted attacks, 91.6 per cent are due to weak infrastructure.

Cyber criminals use destructive malware and ransomware to disrupt global IT networks and infrastructures. Such destructive software can access personal information of the users of any device. There have been widespread ransomware attacks in Bangladesh too. In 2022 CIRT had issued several alerts to the government and the law enforcement agencies. Such attempted attacks are continuing this year too. In March there had been a cyberattack on Biman Bangladesh Airline's e-mail server.

The financial sector is always a major target for cyber criminals. The country's financial sector has several times been target of such attacks. In 2014, a total of Tk 20 million had been removed from Sonali Bank and deposited to an account in Turkey. In 2016 heist, hackers made away with USD 81 million from Bangladesh Bank's reserves. In 2019, clone credit cards were used to clear away USD 3 million from the cash machines of three private banks.

It is possible to enter the core banking system and internet banking gateway by means of the internet. It can be ascertained how much funds are deposited in these institutions. Just as the use of cards in e-commerce is increasing, these are becoming tempting for cyber criminals too.

According to ICT experts, cyber criminals are always on the look out to target weak infrastructures. Bangladesh's information infrastructure and much of government and private services, are still unprotected. These can be easy targets of cybercrime at any time.

The threat that has emerged due to weaknesses in cybersecurity, as pointed out in the CIRT report, can in no way be ignored. If sensitive information goes to the hands of cyber criminals due to weak infrastructure, this can be a cause of serious damage to the state, institutions and individuals. And so along with digital transformation, it is imperative to advance equally with cyber security. There is no room for delay.