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Sarawak’s digitalisation: A foundation of cybersecurity and resilient infrastructure

“Without power your data cannot go through, without water you can’t have cooling. for data centre,” the premier of Sarawak, Tan Sri Dr. Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari, had said when explaining how Sarawak was going to enhance its capacity and capability for a digital economy. He shared this during the launch of the Asia Pacific Cybsersecurity Conference 2023 (APSEC 2023) in Kuching, Sarawak.

The premier was officiating the launch of the cybersecurity conference together with the Minister of Communications and Digital, YB Ahmad Fahmi Fadzil.

You have to protect your data.

In essence, the digital economy impacts and transforms any sector, and he went on to say that the state has to work equally hard if not harder, and work smarter to build and put in place all the necessary digital infrastructure, while also establishing a conducive environment for conducting a full-fledge digital economy in a safe and secure manner.

“You have to protect your data,” he emphasised.

Increasingly inter-dependent and vulnerable

There is cognisance that the impact of cybersecurity breaches and incidents can be systemic with potential repercussions flowing across organisations and countries.

“The exponential increase in cyber incidents around the world are seeing service service disruptions are indicating the same technologies that support government services, businesses and society are increasingly inter-dependent and vulnerable.”

He shared that Sarawak needs to improve its cybersecurity posture by investing in cybersecurity infrastructure. systems and cyber professional talent, among other things.

With a keen eye on global developments around privacy, cybersecurity, policy, regulation, and trends, Sarawak has identified, for example, that:

  1. there is regulatory demand for increased board-level accountability of cyber risk
  2. trends advocating for more severe penalties including jail time for directors who oversee repeated and wilful privacy breaches.

“Sometimes, the penalty is too low.. it’s so low that for rich companies, it is nothing.”

New policies and strategies for three key areas

According to the premier, Sarawak needs to urgently adopt and implement new policies to address cybersecurity including initiatives in the following three related areas.

  1. Enhancing Sarawak’s cybersecurity capacity and capability
  2. Big data analytics in cybersecurity
  3. Safe digital identity

Earlier, YB Fahmi had shared, “In today’s interconnected world, where our lives are increasingly shaped by digital technologies, the protection of our online assets and the safeguarding of our digital identities has become paramount.”

Dr. Abang Haji Zohari had also shared his government’s further plans for trusted digital identity as the foundation for safe and secure access to government services. He cited Singapore’s Singpass as an example, and even shared that Estonia’s digitalisation journey was one that the state hopes to emulate.

The 3-day APSEC conference in Kuching also coincides with World Telecommunication and Information Society Day, which YB Fahmi would attend on 20th May.