Exclusive: Using AI to predict cyberattacks

By Nurfilzah Rohaidi

Interview with Dato’ Dr. Haji Amirudin Bin Abdul Wahab, CEO of Cybersecurity Malaysia.

Malaysia is researching how Artificial Intelligence can predict cyber attacks on the country, the CEO of Cybersecurity Malaysia has revealed to GovInsider.

“Specifically on Artificial Intelligence, it enables one to predict cyber attacks before they actually happen, thereby preventing them,” says Dato’ Dr. Haji Amirudin Bin Abdul Wahab.

The country has a shortage of skilled cyber security professionals, he says, and AI will act as a “force multiplier”. It “enables fewer analysts to identify, thwart and counter a far greater number of attacks”.

A preventive approach

AI will enable Malaysia to “preempt threats by detecting changes or anomalies”, he continues.

It will also provide analysts with “situational awareness” by identifying and classifying any backend limitations a system may have. And fourth, AI enables a “proactive defence”, constantly monitoring for vulnerabilities that could be exploited for malicious purposes.

“This is why a lot of security practitioners are looking into these AI capabilities,” Amirudin says, adding that it allows for “an adaptive strategy for security”.

Priorities for 2018

Amirudin has two other key focus areas for 2018: working more closely with private sector and academia, and boosting cybersecurity skills across the board.

The Cybersecurity Collaboration Programme will help businesses to upgrade their capabilities, and leverage on Cybersecurity Malaysia’s international network to grow beyond the country’s borders.

“It also helps them to uplift standards because we provide them with the necessary evaluation and certification in terms of their product, processes and people,” Amirudin adds. The programme will be launched in the first half of this year, according to him.

Boosting skills

As for skills-boosting, Cybersecurity Malaysia has developed a “holistic framework” for a globally-recognised cybersecurity professional certification. Set to launch in the first quarter of this year, it will provide training and certification for cybersecurity professionals within government, in line with international standards.

15 countries from around the world, mostly from the Organisation of Islamic Cooperation, have expressed their interest in this programme, he continues, and the agency will be launching chapters in those countries over the next few years.

Amirudin has very clear-cut priorities to elevate Malaysia’s cybersecurity capabilities on a national level. This is evident in the country’s ranking as third in terms of commitment to cybersecurity in last year’s Global Cybersecurity Index report. The creation of an Information Security Certification Body within Cybersecurity Malaysia was one of the reasons for this high ranking, according to the report.

But it really boils down to the individual, and their attitude towards cybersecurity. “It’s always about people, whether they are in the public or private sector. They have to play a role in terms of their systems, their data; everyone has to view that it is their responsibility too, not just the government agency’s,” he remarks.
"Everyone has to view that it is their responsibility too, not just the government agency’s.”
Innovation will only accelerate over the next few years, and it will be an increasingly complex job to keep new technologies secure. Cybersecurity Malaysia is on it, working alongside industry, academia and citizens to ensure a future where people can board an autonomous taxi or install a smart home system with peace of mind.

Dato’ Dr. Haji Amirudin Bin Abdul Wahab will be keynote speaker in the Identity, Payments and Security stream at GovPay on 23 January 2018 in Jakarta.

It is free for the public sector - register today.