I am very happy to see our central bank, in view of cyber breaches in the neighboring country, has cautioned all our banks to apply vigilance against cyber threats. We are still concerned for banks not taking minimum possible measures to tackle cyber failures and hacking. That too, even after the central bank reserve heist and ATM/debit card frauds in at least three commercial banks.
In today’s world information system and network security has become a rights issue. Understanding the essential need of security, all developed countries have taken steps to address the problem. On the other hand, developing countries are far away from being able to guarantee this right. Threats to the Information Society were emerging on the content level as well as on the network and physical level. Information security could however not be achieved by technology alone. In order to respond to network threats and create a secure information society, both comprehensive prevention measures and enforcement measures are necessary.
The revolutionary development in the field of ICT has opened up new opportunities for developing countries to move forward in the path of progress by rationally exploiting its potential. The Bangladesh Ministry of Science, Information, and Communication Technology in the past and now ICT ministry have focused on its attention to contributing to the reduction of poverty by strengthening education through applying ICT in rural areas. Rural people to an extent are being given access to necessary information for better cultivation and marketing of their products. Citizens at large are expected to be empowered with the necessary information for efficiently performing their tasks.
Knowledge has become a source of economic might and power, and therefore, has caused increased restrictions on the sharing of knowledge and new norms of intellectual property rights. The ongoing globalization and the intensely competitive environment have a significant impact on the production and services sectors. In view of this, Bangladesh science and technology system has to be infused with new energy if it is to play a decisive and beneficial role in advancing the welfare of all sections of the population, most importantly the poor people. Keeping the aims and objectives in view, the concerned ministry has formulated some policies on protection of its growing cyber world from the unsolicited consequences. The National ICT Policy, Cyber Law, Electronic Transaction Act are already adopted. Appropriate education on Computer Alert and Emergency Responses are underway by the different agencies including the government.
Bangladesh is new in the cyber world only by accessing and using the cyber resources with immense interest by the society where technology development and growth is merely in progress although in highest attention. The Government has formed National Council for Science and Technology (NCST). The Executive Committee for NCST has also been formed to implement policies formulated by the Council. National Information and Communication Technology Policy has also given enormous importance to the development of ICT for capturing our share in the multi-billion dollar software export market, for ensuring good governance, for enacting ICT related policies, special allocation of funds for software projects, development of world-class ICT professionals and creation of a world-class ICT institution for championing excellence in the field. To achieve this objective, a country-wide ICT-infrastructure is supposed to be developed to ensure access to information by every citizen to facilitate empowerment of people and enhance democratic values and norms for sustainable economic development by using the infrastructure of human resources development, good governance, e-commerce, banking, public utility services and all sorts of on-line ICT-enabled services. National ICT Policy also includes issues of human resource development, the creation of ICT infrastructure, facilitating research and development on ICT, development of ICT industries on a priority basis. It has also highlighted the importance of hardware industries, e-Commerce, e-Governance, legal issues related to ICT, application of ICT in healthcare, application of ICT in agriculture to exploit the potential for development of rural economy and agro-business. Application of ICT in other areas like social welfare, transportation and the judiciary system is also been highlighted.
In 1996, the United Nations Commission on International Trade Law (UNCITRAL) has adopted a Model Law on Electronic Commerce. This is known as UNCITRAL Model Law of e-commerce. In conformity with UNCITRAL Model Law, Bangladesh has drafted an ICT Law, which has been approved by the highest authority in February 2005 to facilitate electronic commerce and to encourage growth and development of information technology. The ICT Law establishes rules and norms that validate and recognize contracts, forms through electronic means, sets default rules for contract formation and governance of electronic contract performances, defines the characteristics of a valid electronic writing and an original document, provides for the acceptability of electronic signatures for legal and commercial purposes and supports the admission of computer evidence in courts and arbitration proceedings. In addition, the Copy Right Law 2000 has been amended to include computer software. Bangladesh Computer Council (BCC), the apex body having the responsibility for the promotion of all sorts of ICT activities in the country has been formed. Development of Science and ICT depends on the expansion of telecommunication sector. Independent telecom regulatory authority-Bangladesh Telecommunication Regulatory Commission (BTRC) has been created.
Like many other emerging economies, Bangladesh has limitations in access to information and the available access is not affordable because of the inadequacy of the existing infrastructure as well as the non-availability of appropriate education. The challenges are posed by the lack of an integrated computer security system and education about computer security. Hence there is a need for cooperation; collaboration and investment for security, which also develop the culture of security needs for assuring the security issue. As in business or any dealings, trust is important and trust can be achieved when the practitioners feel that the transaction is secured. Security from a business perspective must, therefore, be seen as a business enabler, not as cost. Our challenges are posed by the lack of an integrated computer security system and education about computer security is therefore one of the most important issues. Further exploration activities are needed on standards for the security of information systems. In order to realize these objectives, the global partnership is indispensable. We also realize that Research and Development is more important for Information Security Framework Program at the same time for successful program we need to have advisory functions, that contribute to awareness raising and co-operation, promote risk assessment methods and best practices and follow standardization efforts, thus contributing to the development of a global approach to information security. Cyber crime legislation has been formulated. There is a serious need to have more projects on cybercrime legislation and enforcement capacity building and training courses throughout the country. Policies of the country should also include privacy policies, trust marks and other self-regulatory measures for the development of products and provision of services and the implementation of the necessary measures for establishing consumer confidence.
We are increasingly getting into a digitized world or financial system. Prevention is better than cure here. Only investment in robust process and architecture can protect us from undesirable consequences.
Mamun Rashid is a leading banker and economic analyst.