Southeast Asia unveils cyber-crime fighting plan
Date: September 24, 2003
Southeast Asian governments have a message for hackers, virus writers and other "cyber-criminals" -- we're ganging up on you.
The Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) announced plans on Friday to share information on computer security by next year and create a regional cyber-crime unit by 2005. And it hopes to enlist the rest of Asia and then the world into the plan.
The world suffered three major computer virus attacks, including a variant of the fast-spreading Sobig e-mail worm, last month, costing companies and governments about $800 million in damage.
Under the new arrangement, ASEAN nations -- Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, Indonesia, Myanmar, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and Brunei -- each would form Computer Emergency Response Teams, or CERTS, by 2005.
These would share instantly information on hackers, worms and viruses, while cooperating against new forms of cyber-crime. The first step -- a framework to share the information -- would be in place from next year, an ASEAN joint statement said on Friday.
"In this way, everybody gets early warning and can take action," Singapore's minister for information, communications and the arts, Lee Boon Yang, told reporters.
Lee said the size of teams would vary from country to country, but would consist of at least 12 people.
Virgilio Pena, the under secretary for the department of transportation and communications in the Philippines, said at least six ASEAN members have an emergency response system in place, while others are still developing their teams.
"We hope eventually to widen the scope of the response teams beyond ASEAN to the Asia-Pacific and to a global scale," he added.
In a joint statement, ASEAN telecommunications ministers also agreed to implement pacts to harmonise standards for telecoms equipment testing, which would speed up delivery times and lower business costs for companies.
In the first phase by 2005, Southeast Asian nations will share a common standard for testing telecoms equipment.
Currently, equipment tested in one country faces another round of tests when arriving in a destination market that can take weeks or months.
"This is the beginning of freer trade in telecommunications equipment, easier market access, lower entry barriers, lower costs to exporters," Lee said.
The pacts will be signed on a bilateral basis, and for a start, negotiations will be held between Singapore and Brunei and Singapore and Indonesia.
"We import a lot of telecom equipment from Singapore, and it would be easy for us to work together," said Brunei's minister of communications, Zakaria Sulaiman.
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