What happens when a whole country tackles cyberthreats?

Vietnam started a coordinated anticybercrime campaign at the government level in 2020. The results are amazing.

Vietnam started a coordinated anticybercrime campaign at the government level in 2020. The results are amazing

Hi folks!

Though most of my posts of late have been about our Magadan–Moscow mega-roadtrip (how else would I share 1800+ of the best photos of the expedition with you, not to mention all the mega-positive mega-vibes?), I’ve been in the office for weeks already — back in the eventful rhythm of Moscow workdays, and of course most of it fully online: meetings, negotiations, conferences, interviews — just like in the bad old mid-2020 COVID days.

Just the other week we held the Asia Pacific (online) Policy Forum, at which high-level speakers from Vietnam, Indonesia, Malaysia, and Australia discussed in detail the most pressing cyberspace issues governments and businesses face today. Also discussed: the acute need for education in the field of cybersecurity, as well as the need for cooperation among geographical regions and also between the private and public sectors.

In his presentation, Nguyen Huy Dung, vice minister of the Ministry of Information and Communications of Vietnam, told the online audience how in 2020 Vietnam prioritized the fight against cybernastiness at the national level. To do so, the government called on ministry IT agencies, local information and communications departments, banks and financial companies, and, of course, private IT-security companies.

Such an approach to fighting the cyberbaddies is something I advocate all the time, though, alas, I rarely see it in action. But it’s in full effect in Vietnam, so I’m just here to continue to praise it and show my support. By the way, I met the vice minister in person in Hanoi back at the end of 2019.

From September to December of 2020, Anti-Malware Research team boffins (together with specialists from other private IT-sec companies) shared all kinds of threat data with the Vietnamese and provided serious technical support in the uncovering and evaluation of botnets with Vietnamese IP addresses.

According the Vietnam Authority of Information Security’s figures, the country’s four-month malware detection campaign resulted in more than 1.2 million computers being scanned. Of those, 400,000 were infected! Also, the number of Vietnamese IP addresses infected by (10) large botnets fell by nearly half. Whoa!

Despite the awful biological virus speeding up digitalization, the overall broader usage of technologies, and the increases in cyberroguery, those massive joint efforts sure did pay off. Here’s more proof: According to data from Kaspersky Security Network (KSN), in 2020, the quantity of Web-based threats in Vietnam fell by 14.2% from 2019 levels, and national threats by nearly a third! Not bad, eh?

Vietnam’s coordinated campaign is an excellent example of how forces can and should be combined in the fight against cybervillainy — especially the fight against complex threats at the global level. It’s important not only to improve the process of exchanging information and know-how between the private and public sectors at both national and international levels, but also to invest substantial resources and apply expert knowledge in the fight against cybercriminality.

IT-security specialists need to participate in campaigns and investigations with the global community, international organizations, and law enforcement agencies. To create a cybersecure world, we need to learn how to collaborate and cooperate no less effectively than do the cybercriminal gangs we’re up against.