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Thailand plans to set up cybersecurity agency to boost cybersecurity preparedness

According to the Electronic Transactions Development Agency of Thailand (ETDA), Prime Minister of Thailand, General Prayut Chan-ocha recently chaired the first meeting of the National Security Council on Cyber Security.

During the meeting, Prime Minister Prayut stated that it is imperative for authorities to push for the enforcement of the data protection law as this will guarantee that Thailand’s data privacy is in accordance with global international standards and will satisfy the concerns of internet users.

The meeting was aimed at making Thailand among the top 20 countries in the world in terms of cybersecurity preparedness.

The 4 major points raised during the meeting were:

(1)    The importance of an available framework of national policies that would protect, prevent and reduce the risks of cyber security threats.

(2)    The creation of the Critical Information Infrastructure (CII), the guidelines and standard operations procedure (SOP) when dealing with emergency situations pertaining cybersecurity.

(3)    The development of cybersecurity personnel.

(4)    The establishment of the Cybersecurity Agency (CSA), the agency responsible for coordinating and responding to cybersecurity issues. This body will guarantee that the protection of the country’s national cybersecurity is at par with international standards.

Digital Economy and Society Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj shared that the framework was approved during the meeting of the national cybersecurity committee, with the aim of achieving better ways to combat modern cybersecurity threats, information theft included.

He explained that with the availability of the internet, unlimited information can be accessed by anyone. Cybersecurity should be considered as a serious threat because leakage of sensitive and confidential information may lead to economic instability and may be critical to national security.

Data pertaining to Thailand’s Cyber Security Readiness Index, as compared with other countries, was also presented during the meeting. In 2017, the International Telecommunications Union (ITU) surveyed the cybersecurity commitment of each country based on five measures: (1) Legal, (2) Technical, Agency/Policy, (3) Organisational Capacity Building, and (4) Collaboration. Results from the Global Cybersecurity Index (GCI) showed that Thailand was ranked 22nd out of 194 countries.

The main purpose of the CII is to protect the six branches of national IT infrastructure in the country – telecommunications; national security and public services; transportation and logistics; banking and finance; energy and public utilities; and public health.

Under the framework Among, the responsibilities of authorities are to identify cyber threats or sources of attacks, take preventive measures, perform surveillance, improve security, and recover and repair damaged systems.

The development of cybersecurity personnel will entail a plan to train 1,000 people from the public sector. These personnel will come from different backgrounds: system administrators, users and technicians.

Funding for all of these endeavours, a total of 350 million Thailand baht, will be coming from the Digital Economy Fund. He also added that Thailand’s cybersecurity efforts will be reinforced with support from the Japanese government through the formation of the ASEAN-Japan Cybersecurity Capacity Building Centre. Japan will provide knowledge, funding, as well as training through the centre. Thailand considers this to be a great opportunity for them to learn from one of the leading countries in cybersecurity.

A temporary cybersecurity agency is also being set up. The agency will team up with the EDTA and Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team. Minister Pichet furthered that the cabinet is expected to create a permanent cybersecurity agency soon in compliance with the cybersecurity law.

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