Cyber terror alert on August 15
In 2020, a cyber-criminal managed to take over the Twitter accounts of several high-profile individuals and companies, including Elon Musk, Joe Biden and Apple. The accounts were used to post a Bitcoin scam, promising followers they would receive double their money back if they sent Bitcoin to a specific address.
If that can happen to the people of the first world, then Bangladesh has valid reasons to worry about the rumour that shockers are in store for August 15!
The National Mourning Day on August 15 is a solemn occasion observed with much respect across the country. But this year, the impending occasion is abuzz with speculations of serious threats of cyber-attack from some religious and ideologically motivated hacker groups.
According to sources, they have declared their intent to launch a storm of cyber-attacks against the country's cyberspace on the day. The government's Computer Incident Response Team (BGD e-GOV CIRT) has issued an alert to all public and private organisations, especially banks, financial institutions, health care, and critical information infrastructures, to take the necessary precautions against any conceivable disruption and damage.
The hacker groups have long been targeting organisations in Pakistan and Bangladesh using various tactics such as distributed denial-of-service attacks, website defacements, data breaches, and malicious payloads.
The National Cyber Security Index 2020 of the UK ranked Bangladesh 65th among 160 countries, a commendable improvement from its previous ranking of 73rd. Bangladesh also ranked second among Saarc countries. Despite such improvements, Bangladesh is still far from being invincible to such cyber-terror attacks.
Cyber-attacks can compromise the confidentiality, integrity, and availability of sensitive information, such as personal details, financial transactions, health records, and national secrets, leading to identity theft, fraud, blackmail, espionage, and sabotage.
When a national day of such magnitude is chosen for such vile acts, it is apparent that the target is to undermine the trust and confidence of the people in its government, disrupt the social harmony of the state, and create fear, panic, and confusion among the people.
The likelihood of a cyber-terror attack on August 15 depends on multiple factors, such as the expertise and motives of the hacker groups. In all likelihood, the hackers are aware of the loopholes in the existing systems in both government and private institutions.
Some recent incidents serve to indicate that despite their severity, we, as a nation, have not taken the risks of cyber security seriously.
The cyber-attack alert issued by BGD e-GOV CIRT advises organisations to take measures to ensure their security, including monitoring user activity, especially during non-office hours, and watching out for any indication of data exfiltration, implementing load balancer solutions, regular backup of data and systems, and keeping them offline or in a separate network, updating all software and hardware with the latest patches and security updates, implementing strong authentication and encryption mechanisms for accessing systems and data.
The potential cyber-attack on August 15 challenges the country's cyber security and sovereignty. It requires the collective effort and cooperation of all stakeholders, including the government, the private sector, civil society, and the general public, to prevent and mitigate the impact of such attacks.
The country must also strengthen its legal and institutional framework for cyber security, enhance capacity-building and awareness-raising initiatives, and foster regional and international collaboration to combat cyber threats.
The author is founder and managing director of BuildCon Consultancies Ltd