‘Time for Sabah to treat cybersecurity seriously’

KOTA KINABALU: More than RM100mil has been lost to online scams in Sabah in the past three years with 4,687 cases reported during the period, says a state minister.

According to state Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Arifin Arif, this was first revealed by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor during his speech in conjunction with the state-level National Anti-Scam Tour 2023 here in the state capital last month.

He said the state recorded its highest amount of loss due to online fraud amounting, to some RM28mil from 1,243 cases as of September this year.

“This shows that aspects of cybersecurity must be given serious attention by all levels of society, including civil servants.

“Although the amount of loss in Sabah is small compared with other states in the country, we need to take early and proactive action in order to minimise risk and prevent cybercrimes from spreading,” Arifin added.

The minister said this during the opening of the Brunei-Indonesia-Malaysia-Philippines East Asean Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) Cybersecurity Summit 2023 here yesterday.

The event was held jointly by the Sabah Computer Services Department and state-owned Sabah Net Sdn Bhd.

Arifin urged the summit’s participants to prepare themselves and their organisations to face challenging issues in relation to artificial intelligence (AI).

He said the challenges and risks of AI to cybersecurity had increased dramatically following the launch of ChatGPT on Nov 30, 2022.

“It is considered a game changer in the field of AI, due to its ability to produce high-quality text that is appropriate to the context, making it extremely versatile and able to handle various tasks of understanding and natural language generation.

“But at the same time, it (ChatGPT) can be misused to spread false information, planning and create malicious source codes, launch cyber-attacks, or perform other dangerous activities in the context of cybersecurity,” Arifin said.

He noted that the Sabah government had implemented various initiatives and programmes to strengthen aspects of cybersecurity to support its delivery service.

He said the state had given special focus to the issue of online fraud starting in 2022, through a series of cybercrime awareness programmes among civil servants.

“So far, six programmes have been implemented in the districts of Keningau, Sandakan, Tawau and Kota Kinabalu involving some 700 civil servants.

“Plans are also being made to expand the scope to the public through joint ventures with strategic partners.

“In total, the state government has implemented 14 training or awareness programmes on cybersecurity, including this event, this year,” Arifin added.

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