Bangladesh is set to roll out a cybersecurity strategy, aiming to create conditions for the safe functioning of cyberspace by strengthening resilience against the growing threats of cyber-attacks.
The Digital Security Agency under the Information and Communication Technology (ICT) Division has already drafted the Bangladesh Cybersecurity Strategy for 2021-2025. The ICT Division will place the strategy before the cabinet for approval soon, after making necessary changes, if any, to it based on recommendations from other stakeholders, officials concerned told The Business Standard (TBS).
The first of its kind in Bangladesh, the draft cybersecurity strategy states that all ministries will be equipped with specific software and skilled manpower to protect themselves from cyber-attacks.
The government has embarked on the initiative in a global context when all countries, including the USA, are highly concerned about the safety of cyberspace. Neighbouring India's National Cybersecurity Strategy also is awaiting a cabinet nod.
According to ICT Division officials, the draft strategy focuses on 10 points to confront future cyber challenges and improve the country's capacity in cyberspace.
The major targets set in the draft document include enhancing national cybersecurity governance and ecosystem, improving organisational management and business operation, strengthening cybersecurity incident management and active cyber defence, enhancing national cybersecurity capacity, nourishing cybersecurity knowledge through education, and promoting a competitive local industry and ecology.
As per the document, 250 graduates, and 125 postgraduates, including 25 doctors of philosophy (PhDs) in cybersecurity, will emerge from the public universities every year, under the supervision of the education ministry.
On 25 January, the ICT Division shared the strategy with all the ministries and got their consent on giving final touches to the draft.
The ICT division will send letters to all the ministries seeking their recommendations over the draft strategy by this week, said officials concerned, adding that the division will make necessary changes or additions to the document based on stakeholders' suggestions and will send it to the cabinet.
Tarique M Barkatullah, director (operation) of the Digital Security Agency, told TBS that the Covid-19 pandemic has increased people's reliance on digital technologies – for personal communication with friends and family, remote work, as well as for operating businesses effectively. Government agencies also have become more dependent on the ICT to continue to operate smoothly, he added.
These new ways of living and working highlight the importance of cybersecurity, which is also underlined by wider trends. An ever greater reliance on digital networks and systems, more rapid advances in new technologies, a wider range of threats, and increasing international competition on underlying technologies and standards in cyberspace emphasise the need for good cybersecurity practices for individuals, businesses and the government, he continued.
Like other nations, Bangladesh also is at high risk of cyber-attacks and threats as, according to the Bangladesh Institute of Bank Management, more than half of the commercial banks here are at risk of cyber-attacks.
Earlier in February 2016, hackers breached the Bangladesh Bank's systems and used the SWIFT messaging network to manipulate the transfer of $951 million from the central bank's account with theFederal Reserve Bank of New York.
Tarique M Barkatullah of the Digital Security Agency told TBS that the cyber security strategy might build Bangladesh as confident, capable, and resilient in this fast-moving digital world. "We have already made Bangladesh strong in ICT infrastructure. The country's ranking on the international cyber security index has improved to 32 this year from 65 a year ago.
"We will try to adapt, innovate and invest in order to protect and promote our interests in cyberspace and will try to be a global leader in cybersecurity."
The current position of Israel on the index is 33, while Australia, Thailand, Hungary, Philippines, Ireland, and Japan are ranked 36th, 37th, 38th, 39th, 40th, and 41st, respectively.
Md Mostofa Akbar, professor of computer science and engineering at the Bangladesh University of Engineering and Technology (Buet), also acknowledged that Bangladesh is an emerging leader in cyber security as it has been doing better in the prevention of attacks.
But the country may face huge attacks and threats in the future, he told TBS, adding the national cybersecurity strategy will help to protect Bangladesh from hackers and other risks.
The birth of cybersecurity
1987 was the year of birth of the commercial antivirus, although there are competing claims about the innovator of the first antivirus product.
By 1988, many antivirus companies were established around the world and in the 1990s the world went online.
In 2000, with the Internet becoming available in more homes and offices across the globe, cybercriminals had more devices and software vulnerabilities to exploit than ever before.
The 2010s saw many high-profile breaches and attacks starting to impact the national security of countries and cost businesses millions.