Spike in reported cyber crime cases


KOTA KINABALU: The number of Internet users coming forward to report cyber crimes in Malaysia has increased sharply over the last four years, according to CyberSecurity Malaysia (CSM).

A review of computer security incidents and trends in the country based on complaints lodged to the agency showed an increase of 4,526 cases or 127 per cent in 2010 from the previous year.

The upward trend continued in 2011 when an increase of 7,128 cases or 88 per cent was recorded.

CSM chief executive officer Prof Dato Husin Jazri attributed the increase in the number of reported cases to the setting up of the agency’s Internet threats monitoring arm, Cyber999 Help Centre, in 2009.

According to him, Cyber999 received the highest number of reports from the users compared to any other Internet help or complaints centre in the country.

He also cited improving awareness among Internet users as a major factor in the increase in the cases reported.

“The trend fluctuated a little but basically remained on almost a flat line from 2001 up to 2007, but then from 2008 you can see the graph started to go up and continued to climb until now.

“In 2008, there were only 2,123 cases but in 2010 the figure had gone up to 8,090 and then to 15,218 in 2011. These are just cases reported to us through various interactive, human-to-human platforms,” he said during a media briefing here, yesterday.

On the type of cyber crimes, Husin said online frauds top the list, accounting for 46 per cent of the total number of cases reported so far.

Intrusion or hacking and attempted hacking were second at 39 per cent, followed by cases involving malicious codes (12%) and harassment or cyber bullying (3%).

The data collected by the agency also showed that most of cyber incidents in Malaysia, similar to those in other countries, were ‘social’ and ‘personal’ in nature, highlighting the dangers faced by social networkers.

“Cyber criminals are moving to social sites like Facebook to prey on unsuspecting users, including children who are heavily exposed to the Internet communication technology, and social networking can have a huge adverse impact on the life of the users,” Husin said.

“For example, employers may use Internet to learn about the background of a job applicant and unflattering information, photos and videos posted online in the past could jeopardize his or her chances of getting the job,” he said.

Apart from the threats to the country’s Internet infrastructures, he said the biggest concern among the authorities was the safety of the users, and they believe that for every case detected there are even more unreported incidents, especially cyber harassment and bullying.

Other cyber threats like pornography and child pornography, cyber stalking, identity theft and cyber grooming (recruiting for criminal activities) are also major concerns in Malaysia, he added.

Husin, who is also Information Security Professionals Association president, said that like in any other country the evolution of laws governing the Internet in Malaysia progresses much slower than the current development in the Internet world.

However, he said, there are considerably sufficient laws and regulations in Malaysia at the moment although there is a need for further improvement.

At the same time, the competency level of the enforcement agencies and officers must also be further improved to deal the growing sophistication involved in cyber crimes, he added.

“The competency of our enforcement has improved a lot over the years but there is still room for improvement,” said Husin, who is hoping his contract as the CEO of the agency would be renewed after it ends July 31.

He said the constantly increasing number of security incidents in Malaysia is understandably worrying, given the high and rapidly growing rate of Internet usage in the country.