Concerns over hacks and data breaches arise again

PETALING JAYA: While Malay­sians think that the idea of a national digital ID would mean greater convenience, they are also concerned about cybersecurity and data breaches.

Masters student Loshana K. Shagar, 29, said a national digital ID would be convenient but was worried of the consequences if the data fell into the wrong hands.

“It’s convenient because it means we no longer have to go through the hassle of making copies for proof of identity multiple times.

“However since it’s digital, questions of cybersecurity will also arise.

“Remember, the telco hack that compromised many of our mobile numbers and personal info?

“This digital ID information is far more sensitive and if they fell into the wrong hands, the effects could be far more damaging,” she said.

Writer S. Kumara, 38, said a national digital ID was a good idea but a detailed study should be carried out on its implementation.

“An immune system protecting the digital IDs from being breached must first be created before introducing these IDs to Malaysians.

“The issue of social media accounts, mobile phone numbers as well as private accounts being hacked is increasingly becoming rampant and this must be taken into account,” he said.

Former chef Jay Zack, 29, said he was sceptical of the idea due to cybersecurity concerns due to the last data breach case in Malaysia in October last year that saw 46 million phone numbers leaked.

“Also what other data would be linked into this proposed ID? The last breach already showed what scammers can do whatever they want with just your phone number and name,” he said.

Copywriter H. Ryan, 30, said a digital ID was a safeguard against the daily problems that people face such as losing their physical ID.

“While cybersecurity is a concern, what about normal security? People lose stuff all the time whether of their own negligence, is robbed or when their house burns down.

“Also from a liability standpoint, if you lose your documents, it’s on you, and you have to be the one to rectify the situation.

“On the other hand, if the government loses your info via hacking or whatever, then it’s on them, and they have to work to rectify the situation and can’t hold you liable for any delays. So, that’s nice,” he said.

Retiree Sarah Kalsom, 58, questioned the need to change the status quo, saying that going digital was a step forward but might incur unforeseen costs for taxpayers.

“Why reinvent the wheel when the current IC is sufficient and still can be duplicated by unscrupulous agents and people?

“If the digital ID is meant to provide a verifiable platform of trust, does it mean the current MyKad is redundant? Best to spend taxpayers money on health-related measures,” she said.

Meanwhile, from the comments on The Star Online Facebook page, more Malaysians were against the idea than for it.

Facebook user Nathaniel Soo questioned: “I wonder how hackable such a ‘trusted platform’ will be, and the treasure trove that you can unearth from therein.”

Csw Ed said that Malaysians did not need this venture now, commenting: “Another national business venture is in motion. Why start all this now when your own administration is cutting awarded contracts to save dollar and cents?”

Ezzarul Jailani commented: “Err, no. Do you want the government of the day to become a nanny state?”

Meanwhile Facebook user Ser Lee, who is for the idea, said: “Does this mean more paperless options? If yes, I’m all for it.”

Justin Tan noted that the national digital ID was similar to Singapore’s SingPass, although the IC number was still required for logging in purposes.