CCTVs and cyber: The latest in Malaysia’s security

By Sean Nolan

Interview with Dato’ Ts Dr Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO, CyberSecurity Malaysia.

CCTVs were first used to allow scientists to observe rocket launches from the safety of a bunker. Today, they protect us in a different way, by monitoring public spaces, recording criminal activity, and zooming in on slippery lawbreakers.

CyberSecurity Malaysia assists law enforcement agencies in their investigations by using its AI technology to identify individuals from CCTV footage. This comes on top of its primary duties to help organisations prevent and respond to cyberthreats.

Dato’ Ts Dr Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia, discusses how the organisation is using AI to catch criminals, and the underlying principles for Malaysia’s cyber strategy.

Fighting crime with AI

CyberSecurity Malaysia developed AI algorithms for facial identification called CamMuka, says Amirudin. The tool can recognise faces in different conditions such as in various lightings and resolutions, wrote The Star.

Law enforcement officers extract images from sources such as CCTV or mobile phone footage and hand it over to CyberSecurity Malaysia. From there, AI analysis will help to identify the individuals featured, whether their image is in 2D or 3D, Amirudin explains.

After identification, CyberSecurity Malaysia acts as an expert witness in criminal court, he says. They are able to identify culprits in a video of criminal activity and help with criminal investigations, he shares.

Previous forensic methods involved forensic workers spending “long hours searching for specific individuals inside video files'', he says. But AI automates the process, reducing the amount of time required for analysis, Amirudin states.

Tools for cyberdefense 

CyberSecurity Malaysia provides 30 to 40 cyber defense services, including malware detection and threat screening. All of them are built around four key principles, he explains.

The first principle is to be ready to respond when a cyber attack inevitably happens, he explains. Second, organisations must put in place policies and best practices to prevent attacks.

Third, systems should improve how they detect attacks that break through traditional protections, Amirudin notes. Finally, systems need to predict likely attacks, based on previous patterns and trends of malicious behaviour in the cybersphere.

CyberSecurity Malaysia worked alongside the Malaysian Administrative Modernisation and Management Planning Unit (MAMPU) to create a cybersecurity platform for the public sector, Amirudin says. This system connected previously isolated cybersecurity measures and gives an overview of all the components agencies had to account for, MAMPU wrote.

Building tech talent domestically 

CyberSecurity Malaysia plans to prioritise building up local cyber talent to “decrease our reliance on foreign products”, Amirudin says. He identified cryptography, the ability to solve codes, as one area that Malaysia is becoming more self-reliant.

The organisation recently helped to develop a cryptography lab that allows it to test “various local encryption products to ensure they are meeting requirements”, he shares. The lab has been recognised by the USA and Canada as capable of protecting sensitive information, Amirudin adds.

CyberSecurity Malaysia also supports local cybersecurity firms, he shares. The organisation is helping these businesses to develop programmes and is supporting their journey to meet international standards.

International cooperation

Although a country can do its best to protect itself internally, cyberthreats often come from abroad. “We believe in the importance of international cooperation, because cyberspace is a borderless place,” Amirudin says.

Among its international efforts, CyberSecurity Malaysia is a key member of the Asia Pacific Computer Response Team as well as the Organisation of the Islamic Conference - Computer Emergency Response Team.

International organisations such as these aim to foster cooperation among nations in cyber defense. They meet regularly to exchange research about cybersecurity and share their organisation’s best practices, says Amirudin.

A government agency managing cybersecurity must cover a range of responsibilities and duties. While fighting crime, CyberSecurity Malaysia improves its domestic cyberdefense network while fostering cooperation internationally as well.