Data Breach a Test to Our Digital Resilience

By: Sonny Zulhuda
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Malaysian public has recently been perturbed by a series of personal data breach one after another. While the investigation is taking place, one can only expect that what has surfaced may only be a tip of an iceberg.
As the country embraces digital economy and aims at a cashless society by 2020, this data security crisis becomes a part of the equation. More digitised information and more synchronised data mean a bigger risk of data breach calamities. As a country, there is no backing out from this equation even though that means we have to learn it hard.
As a consequence, a data breach is not a matter of ‘whether’ but is a matter of ‘when’ it will happen. This requires us to adopt a risk management approach. Failure of managing the risks can be increasingly costly. The problem is, it is too often when we realise there is a data, it may be already too late. The alleged leak and illegal sale of Malaysian telecommunications data are said to have happened years ago. By now, we are already five years too late!
Time is of the essence here. As we start to learn about the breaches that took place, swift actions are warranted. There are few points to consider by all the stakeholders.
Firstly, data users can do the least by keeping the public informed about what is going on.
Even though our PDP law does not oblige data users to notify data subjects about any breach, this is warranted for transparency and trust preservation, and hence their business continuity plan.
Secondly, we should treat this as an issue of national security.
Not only because massive data of the majority of the public is affected, but also because those data come from the telecommunications and financial industries which are deemed among the ten critical national information infrastructures (CNII) as outlined by the Malaysian National Cyber Security Policy (NCSP) 2006. So, data security under this CNII must be given utmost priority. Both public and private sectors must cooperate in dealing with the crises.
Thirdly, it is time to test the mechanism of our law.
These incidents of a personal data breach either maliciously or negligently occurred, will need to be tested against the Personal Data Protection principles enshrined in the Act. The authority needs to speed up the activation of the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) 2010 after some “day-nap”. Other agencies need to help in accordance with the statutory powers granted to each of them.

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The year 2017 is notably the beginning of some successful prosecutions under the Act, which is a crucial milestone in itself. On a positive note, we should take this crisis as an opportunity to also prove our legal mechanism. 

On top of that, what we are facing now is something bigger: it is testing our resilience as a nation. The challenge is more than a damage control: it is to deal efficiently with the massive data crisis like what is happening now.

This is not a one-off duty as data security is a process rather than a result. As Vince Lombardi was once famously quoted, it is not so much about how we fall down, but rather on how to raise back. And by “we” I mentioned in this last paragraph, it is you and me and every one of us the individuals to whom the personal data actually belong to.

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Consumers to take control of their Personal Data

My Intro: The following passages were published by the Star in their Sunday Edition (6th January 2013) at pp 23-24. The article is about what Malaysian consumers should know and do in relation to their personal data. It is based on another interview the journalist had with me. For the benefit of the readers, I reproduce some parts of the article in this page. Should you want to read it in full, check the newspaper’s page HERE.

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“Consumers, take control of your personal data”

The Personal Data Protection Act 2010 has come into force, but the public will have to do their part to make it effective.

Credit: The Star Online

Credit: The Star Online

EAGER to win the grand prize, Maria (not her real name) did not hesitate to “drop” her name card at the door for a lucky draw at a company dinner. Weeks later, she found herself inundated with phone calls and text messages offering different services and products.

It is an accepted practice in Malaysia to leave our call cards or personal information at the registration counter of public events. But have you ever wondered what your personal data will be used for later? Or how it will be stored?

This has become so common here that no one thinks twice about the risks and implications, says personal data protection law expert Dr Sonny Zulhuda.

Under the newly enforced Personal Data Protection Act 2010 (PDPA), however, this practice will have to be reviewed, particularly for business entities that use these occasions as an opportunity to build their network of potential customers.

Continue reading

Personal Data Protection Act 2010 will be Enforced from 01.01.2013 — Or so it was said…

By Sonny Zulhuda

That is it. No more waiting or being complacent.

The Minister of Information, Communications and Culture  of Malaysia, Datuk Seri Rais Yatim was reported today (23 Oct 2012) as saying that the crucial Act will be enforced beginning of the year 2013 — that is less than two months from now. The report from The Sun Daily can be viewed here.

Credit: The Sun Daily (c) 2012

Credit: The Sun Daily (c) 2012

And when it is implemented, as prescribed by the Act itself, data users will have three months to prepare to comply with the rules and regulations on personal data that they collect, process or otherwise store. In total, companies as well as individual data users will only have five months to prepare themselves before the Data Protection Commissioner can knock their doors if he wishes to inspect their personal data system and the level of compliance.

Also, it would mean that the consumers, termed as data subjects, would be able to come and check the accuracy of their personal data collected and processed at their bankers, telecommunications providers, or any other services providers that they had contract with.

Who will be implicated? Continue reading

Penal Code for Cyber Crime

By: Sonny Zulhuda

Cyber Crime is any crime that involves computer or computer system either as a target or as a medium. With this definition, one could should not be mistaken into thinking that cyber crime only takes place when a computer genius manages to interfere with a networked computer system, bypassing complicated security, encryption or any access-controlling mechanism.

Cyber crime includes those ‘conventional crimes’ in which the criminal has found a new way to launch their wrong-doing. by way of computer network or otherwise being facilitated by information technologies.

The legal role of addressing and curbing cyber crime can therefore be attributed to the conventional law of crime. In Malaysia, the main statute is the Penal Code.

Continue reading

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