Over the last few years, the developments in technological innovation along with their easy accessibility have stimulated a positive paradigm shift in the way we live. With the consequences of such a paradigm shift, cybercrime emerges as a curse of the electronic age. Born in the lap of new technological innovations and their intense intervention in every aspect of our life, cybercrime has become the talk of the time, thereby, cybersecurity—a demand of the time.
It needs no emphasising that over the last decade the ICT sector of Bangladesh has seen an astonishing revolution. Now, people in remote villages have access to internet, even a farmer or a housewife living in faraway villages now has a Facebook account which was out of the realm of our imagination only a decade ago. All these profound changes indeed are the consequence of the government’s ‘Digital Bangladesh’ initiative. And in order to materialise that dream, it is time to give due importance towards reinforcing a strong cybersecurity system in the country.
As computer systems have become fundamental to the daily functioning of businesses, organisations, governments and individuals, we have been compelled to put an implausible amount of trust in these systems. As a result, despite being amateur in computer literacy, we do not hesitate to preserve our valuable information in them. Thus, we may be affected by the cyber criminals at any moment.
Reportedly, more than 80 million people in Bangladesh currently use internet, so cyber threats may become pervasive in individuals just because of a lack in capacity of handling such threats. As cyberspace has no territorial demarcation, the abuse of ICT also poses serious threats to international peace and security. Considering the emerging number of online users and continued efforts on affordable access, cybersecurity needs to be integrated in every aspect of policy and planning. The government should look forward to play an effective role in making the digital world safer.
Over the last several years, we not only have gained huge success in ICT sector but we have experienced a plethora of instances of cybercrimes too. We have experienced misuse of social media driven by propaganda and unauthentic information. Everyday millions of users are being helpless victims of cybercrime. It is however discomforting to note that identifying the actual source of wrongful activity has remained a challenge for us. In this regard, mechanisms so far used for cyber security should be made more inclusive and the question of rights and freedoms in cyberspace needs to be duly addressed as well.
Cyberattacks are also an emerging threat to our economy and banking sector. Reportedly,28 percent banks of the country have no preparation to protect from any possible cyberattack, 34 percent have partial arrangement while the rest are well-off in facing any cyberattack as reported by this daily on Sunday. The report tells us that several banks are yet to comply with the directions despite strict guidelines from Bangladesh Bank (BB) over establishment of IT Governance and IT Security for all banks in the country. Ergo, it is time for all the private and public banks to allocate a certain portion of annual income for ICT infrastructure development and manpower training. Experts are of the opinion that Bangladesh has sometimes neglected cybersecurity because of the absence of stern and effective cybersecurity regulatory norms. It is disgraceful to note that some basic guidelines and recommendations have been issued by BB but they are still away from international standards.
It is alleged that cybersecurity has not been properly addressed by the banking sector of Bangladesh which has made the banking information and infrastructures vulnerable to sophisticated cyberattacks. Considering the situation, we call upon the bank authorities to think how to involve IT to minimize the cost and increase the efficiency, and how to provide better services to the customers ensuring reliability, safety and security. Otherwise, banks may face IT risks as well as business risks.
However, it is good to note that in tune with the global trends, the banks of Bangladesh have been investing heavily in technology infrastructure solutions and manpower in recent years in a bid to achieve increased productivity, efficiency and profitability.
Bangladesh government has been working to establish cybersecurity centres in the country. Notably, the government has been working to establish seven cyber tribunals at seven divisional cities, Chattogram, Rajshahi, Khulna, Barishal, Sylhet, Rangpur and Mymensingh, with a view to accelerating the trial proceedings of cases under Cyber Security Act 2006. A Cybersecurity Incident Response Team is in place, which cooperates with other countries and a Digital Forensic Laboratory is going to be set up for training purposes. Also, in order to protect citizens’ data and privacy the government has formulated Digital Security Act 2018.
We appreciate Digital Security Act 2018 and welcome all the initiatives taken by the government to set up stronger infrastructures for strengthening cybersecurity in Bangladesh. Development partners should consider this to be part of their internationally agreed commitments. Bangladesh needs to quickly frame an appropriate and updated cybersecurity policy, create adequate infrastructure, and foster closer collaboration among all those involved to ensure a safe cyberspace.
As cybercrime is an emerging threat and no one is fully secure these days, emphasis should be given on how we can control cybercrimes with continuous monitoring and act accordingly. It is now not only up to the organisations but also to the state to prioritise country’s cybersecurity needs. In this regard, the government should formulate and implement the right policies and cyber laws that make online transactions a safer choice for customers. Also there is a need to deploy special cybersecurity watchdogs and equip them with advanced technology.
S H B Shuvro is an Editorial Assistant of Bangladesh Post