Malaysia building center to study cyberterrorism

KUALA LUMPUR – Malaysia’s Prime Minister Abdullah Badawi has approved a US$13 million grant to lay the foundation of IMPACT, a not-for-profit global organization, to rally efforts from governments, the private sector, and academia worldwide, against the growing threat of cyber terrorism.

IMPACT, or International Multilateral Partnership Against Cyber Terrorism, is the first global public-private initiative against cyber terrorism. It drives collaboration among governments, industry leaders and cyber security experts to enhance the global community’s capacity to prevent and respond to cyber threats.

The start-up grant will be used to construct the IMPACT building in Cyberjaya, Malaysia, and operations are expected to start in December.

The fund will also finance the infrastructure for the four centers of IMPACT: the Centre for Training & Skills Development; the Centre for Security Certification, Research & Development; the Centre for Global Response; and, the Centre for Policy, Regulatory Framework & International Co-operation.

Currently chaired by the Malaysian PM, the leadership of the International Advisory Board of IMPACT will be handed over to other member countries after the initial three-year term. “From the standpoint of the Malaysian government, their contribution is a gift to the global community. Someone has to start. They feel they’re just giving the seed,” said Mohd Noor Amin, Chairman, Management Board, IMPACT.

IMPACT is currently building two systems for its member countries. One is an early warning system, which will aggregate ‘feeds’ from IMPACT’s security partners and member countries, which will be redistributed across the world to member countries. Another is a collaboration system that, according to Amin, is a secure electronic platform enabling experts from member countries to collaborate with one another based on their specialty and niche areas.

Al-Ihsal Ishak, Acting COO and Head of the IMPACT Centre for Training and Skills Development, shared his expectations of IMPACT’s new systems and its network of partnerships across the globe.

“We actually are looking at first-hand interaction with the Cyber Crime Convention where we believe 14 countries have signed, or will sign,” said Ishak, adding that INTERPOL was represented at the first IMPACT World Cyber Security Summit, held in Malaysia, May 20-22.

At press time, 30 countries had confirmed participation and representation at ministry-level of the summit, including the secretary-general of the International Telecommunication Union, a member of IMPACT’s International Advisory Board.

Amin said that IMPACT is more concerned more about the consequences of cyber terrorism than whether the threats are initiated by individuals or organized groups. “We are talking about threats that are far more serious, for instance, the ability to bring down the airport traffic control systems, the stock market systems, or to tamper with medical records,” he said.

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