As COVID-19 has accelerated digitalization for people, business and society. With it comes benefits, but also new risks. Myanmar consumers and businesses are increasingly concerned with cybersecurity. That has nothing but upside.
Why? Because concern means awareness, and awareness means action. Today, most of our tech devices such as computers, smartphones, and other gadgets are connected online for either individual or business purposes. Some of these devices hold a lifetime of data: precious and irreplaceable photos, journals, novels, passwords and much more. Protecting this content is vital, and by keeping devices safe the people using them are protected, too.
From digital leapfrogging to data evolution
As internet access in Myanmar expanded with affordable SIM cards, reliable 3G and 4G network infrastructure, the internet penetration in Myanmar was 40% as of 2019. During the first wave of the pandemic in April, telecommunications companies reported a 25% increase in internet usage. Video conferencing, multimedia content streaming, e-commerce, mobile money and digital payments have also surged dramatically.
Increasing awareness of cyber threats
However, cybersecurity attacks and breaches have also risen sharply. In 2013 there were only two cases of cyber-related crimes reported in Myanmar. Five years later the number stood at 744. Scanning and malware attacks are among the most frequently reported types of cyber-crimes in the country. Cybersecurity stories are also starting to find their way into in the media, and the COVID-19 crisis has further escalated that trend. At Telenor, we believe this is good – because growing awareness of the value of data means people are more likely to take better care of their data.
Data is the new oil
In a digital economy, data is considered a valuable asset and an enabler for competitiveness. Telenor Myanmar uses customer data and insights to personalize and tailor products and services. Doing so also comes with a responsibility to protect, and we invest significantly to keep our customers’ data safe. Customers are increasingly looking to large corporations and public institutions to keep them safe. According to a U-Report Myanmar's Poll from earlier this year, 4 in 10 respondents expect internet service providers to help protect them online. Building digital resilience for society at large, however, is a shared responsibility. It starts with awareness.
Theft you may not notice before it is too late
Lost or stolen credit cards used to be what we worried most about. It is a visible and concrete threat, but it is one that is becoming manageable as more banks put in place digital safeguards and authentication solutions. Theft of your identity or your personal information, however, is not quite so concrete. The most advanced threats via malware, phishing and botnets can go completely undetected, making this invisible enemy even more difficult to get a grip on. It is critical that each individual feels a sense of responsibility for their personal data, and keep in mind that cyber-attacks exist – and can happen to anyone. Weak passwords are the number one source of information theft. Training and awareness is key to building resilience.
Keeping businesses safe
In response to the pandemic, businesses everywhere have been required to reinvent themselves and digitalize much faster than they might have anticipated. With sales moving online and staff working from home, Myanmar businesses are much more exposed to cyber threats today than they were only in February. To help keep businesses safe and secure, Telenor Myanmar recently introduced Web Shield, a cloud-based cyber security solution with advanced and always-updated safeguards against known cyber threats. With Telenor Web Shield, customers can keep all their devices safe by subscribing to the service connecting via the Telenor network.
Staying safe while bouncing back
Myanmar’s rapid data evolution fuels our increasingly digital economy and can help us mount a forceful recovery after COVID-19. But we need to make sure it is an evolution that remains safe and secure for everyone. Cybersecurity needs to move up on our national agenda. The cybersecurity law which is under development is an important step in this direction.
We at Telenor Group and Telenor Myanmar remain committed to doing our part for a safer and more cyber secure Myanmar.
Ms. Caroline Yin Yin Htay, Chief Business Officer, Telenor Myanmar
Caroline Yin Yin Htay is the Chief Business Officer (CBO) of Telenor Myanmar. Among the first employees in the company, she served as CFO before setting up Telenor’s Business division in March 2019. Caroline has more than 15 years of telecoms experience. She holds Fellowship status of CPA (Australia), is the first Myanmar citizen to hold an ASEAN CPA. She graduated with EMBA from University of Hull (UK).