Harin to create “digital democracy” with cyber security protection

Wednesday, 30 September 2015 00:26 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

  • Says vulnerability of businesses and individuals to cyber attacks are increasing and ICTA will give highest priority to counter the threat
  •  Identifies cyber security protection as part of “good governance” 
  • New Govt. will also focus on soft infrastructure and not only hard infrastructure to make Sri Lanka globally competitive
  • Cybercrime costs the global economy over $ 400 billion per year
  • 90% of companies worldwide recognise they are insufficiently prepared to protect themselves against cyber attacks


BUP_DFT_DFT-1-140Telecommunications and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando lights the oil lamp at the opening of Cyber Security Summit as International Telecommunication Union Asia Pacific Senior Advisor Sameer Sharma (left), co organiser CICRA Consultancies CEO and Director Boshan Dayaratne (second from right) and co-organiser Daily FT Editor Nisthar Cassim look on - Pix by Bhanuka Kirinde, Upul Abayasekara and Daminda Harsha Perera



By Shiran Illanperuma

The new Telecommunication and Digital Infrastructure Minister Harin Fernando yesterday committed to creating a society of digital democracy with cyber security protection for which all stakeholders must unite.

“ I believe that regulators, operators, academics, vendors in communication and IT industries need to work together towards our common goal of creating a society of digital democracy that is protected by cyber security,” Harin told the opening session of a packed third annual Cyber Security Summit held yesterday by the Daily FT and CICRA Consultancies.

“Cyber security preparedness is a national cause that should be supported by all stakeholders through numerous Private-Public Partnerships,” he said, commending the joint initiative in this regard by Daily FT and CICRA.

Over 300 private and public sector representatives as well as young professionals and graduates attended the full-day summit which featured a host of global and local experts.

Having shared the latest data on the global incidents and threat of cyber security, the Minister said it was clear that around the world, including in Sri Lanka, the vulnerability of businesses and individuals to attacks was increasing and would continue to increase in the future with the increased move to digital platforms.

He said ICT played a catalytic role today, where it underpins the development of entire societies. Businesses have gone online and societies have become networked by means of ICT. Within this context, cyber security plays a key role and should be regarded as the highest priority, with its power to potentially paralyse an organisation as well as play havoc with people’s lives.

Fernando said the Global Risks 2015 report, published in January by the World Economic Forum (WEF), shockingly stated that “90% of companies worldwide recognise that they are insufficiently prepared to protect themselves against cyber attacks.” Furthermore, cyber crime costs the global economy over $ 400 billion per year, according to estimates by the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

“The way to counteract this is, as we continue to increase the e-literacy in our country and develop our ICT infrastructure, it is also important to enforce and implement effective cyber security framework simultaneously,” the Minister said. 

Earlier in the year, Sri Lanka participated in the Council of Europe Convention on fighting cybercrime, which was a two-day European Union funded International Conference on ‘Assessing the Threat of Cybercrime’. 

Budapest Crime Convention

In September Sri Lanka also became the first country in South Asia and second in Asia after Japan to become a state party to the Budapest Cybercrime Convention. This international treaty effectively addresses internet and computer crime by harmonising national laws, improving investigative techniques and increasing criminal justice cooperation among nation states to effectively combat the threat against cybercrime.

“So we assure that the Government is on the right track and is committed to good governance, of which cyber security is a part,” the Minister said.

“The current Government, with its emphasis on soft infrastructure as opposed to hard infrastructure, has given due attention to cyber security and will continue to do so in the future as well,” said Fernando, who is the youngest Minister in the new Cabinet.

He said that the ICTA, which was the national partner for the Daily FT-CICRA Summit, is committed to formulating policies and the required legal framework. 

“Then it is the responsibility of each of us where we all have to work together to ensure that cyber security policies and guidelines are enforced and adhered to by all. Further, organisations need to take responsibility to report breaches so that the Government can take action to strengthen security measures,” Harin added.

“As the new Government, we will make aggressive efforts in planning to further enhance this modern ICT infrastructure with the efficient cyber security measures in place simultaneously in order to make Sri Lanka globally competitive,” the Minister said.

He also encouraged local businesses to consider cyber security as a key area and develop expertise in the domain.  “It will be another avenue of business that we can explore,” Fernando added.

At the summit, International Telecommunication Union (ITU) Regional Office Asia Pacific Senior Advisor Sameer Sharma delivered the keynote address on ‘Building Security and Trust in Cyberspace’. 

Guests of Honour, Central Bank Governor Arjuna Mahendran and ICT Agency Managing Director/CEO Muhunthan Canagey, also spoke.

Those who made expert presentations were Principal Consultant, Cisco Security, India Srikanta Prasad, on ‘Threat Intelligence for Cyber Security’; Chief Security Officer and Advisor for Microsoft in Asia Pierre Noel on ‘Cyber Security: Before it becomes an agenda’; Security Lead – Commercial, India and SAARC, CISCO Vivek Srivastava on ‘Adaptive Security Architecture’; Jayantha Fernando, Program Director and Legal Advisor, ICTA Sri Lanka on ‘Impact of Budapest Cybercrime convention on laws’;  Brian Kealy, Microsoft Country Manager for Sri Lanka and Maldives on ‘Mobility and Cyber Security’,  and Krishna Rajagopal, CEO, Akati Consulting, Malaysia on ‘Angels vs. Demons: The Good, The Bad and The Ugly’.

The full-day summit was followed by ‘Night Hack’ – an innovative and informative evening, showcasing the immediate and potential threats and dangers posed by cyber criminals.

CISCO and Microsoft were the summit’s strategic partner while ICTA was the national partner. The telecommunications partner was Sri Lanka Telecom, the Official Payment Gateway Partner was LankaPay, the official insurer was Continental Insurance, official printers were OfficeMax, LSP, the creative partner was Triad, the electronic media partners were LearnTV, TV Derana, FM Derana and Ada Derana while the hospitality partner was Cinnamon Lakeside.