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Inaugural GFCE Regional Director for Southeast Asia Appointed

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), in partnership with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore (CSA) has officially appointed Mr. Allan S. Cabanlong as the first Regional Director for Southeast Asia this week. This appointment marks a significant milestone in the establishment of the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub, following the creation of a Southeast Asia liaison position announced by Senior Minister Mr. Teo Chee Hean during Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) in October 2022.

Allan, a distinguished cybersecurity professional with a two-decade career, brings extensive interdisciplinary expertise to his new role. Having served as the Assistant Secretary for Cybersecurity and Enabling Technologies of the Philippines Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT) and concurrently as the Executive Director V of the Cybercrime Investigation and Coordination Center (CICC), he has played a pivotal role in shaping Philippine cybersecurity capacity development. Allan’s notable achievements include authoring the National Cybersecurity Strategy, implementing the first National Cybersecurity Management Systems Platform, and organizing the Philippines National Computer Emergency Response Team. As the Regional Director, he will lead the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub, fostering collaboration and knowledge sharing among Southeast Asian countries and stakeholders to enhance cyber resilience in the region.

The ASEAN-Singapore Cybersecurity Centre of Excellence (ASCCE) will serve as the hub’s home base, providing a conducive environment for collaboration and innovation. Established in 2019, the ASCCE has played a crucial role in advancing cybersecurity capabilities in the ASEAN region. By housing the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub, the ASCCE further solidifies Singapore’s position as a cybersecurity hub and a center for regional cooperation.

The GFCE has been increasingly active in the Southeast Asia region on coordinating cyber capacity building. The GFCE held its Annual Meeting 2018 in the margins of the SICW and since then it has sought to improve representation in the region. At present, six ASEAN Member States are part of the GFCE Community with two in the pipeline. In partnership with CSA, the GFCE also holds its annual Southeast Asia Regional Meeting within the SICW program. With the establishment of the Southeast Asia Hub, and alongside its regional efforts in the Pacific, LAC, Africa and the Western Balkans, the GFCE aims to better understand regional perspectives and capacity needs and translate them into specific activities that support capacity building. The Southeast Asia Hub will therefore serve as a platform for addressing capacity building needs, sharing best practices, promoting initiatives, and facilitating dialogue between governments, academia, industry, and civil society organizations.

Mr. Allan S. Cabanlong at the ORF Global Cyber Policy Dialogue: Southeast Asia, July 2023. 

During his first week, Allan participated in the ORF Global Cyber Policy Dialogue: Southeast Asia and engaged in discussions on capacity building priorities with representatives from ASEAN Member States. Expressing his enthusiasm for the role, Allan highlighted the potential of the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub to strengthen cybersecurity across the region. “I am honored to lead the GFCE Southeast Asia Hub and work towards building stronger cybersecurity resilience in Southeast Asia,” he said. “Through collaboration and knowledge sharing, we can collectively tackle the evolving cyber threats and safeguard our digital future.”

The Asia-Pacific Cybercrime (APC) Capacity-Building Hub

Written by
Wouter Veenstra, Head Global Outreach and Partnerships, GFCE Secretariat

The APC-HUB is a capacity building training institution that provides trainings on combating cybercrime to lawmakers, policymakers, judges, prosecutors, investigators, and all other multi-stakeholders in the Asia-Pacific region. By means of an MoU (Memorandum of Understanding) dating back to 20 November 2019 in Strasbourg, the Supreme Prosecutors’ Office of the Republic of Korea (KSPO), the World Bank and the GFCE joined forces to support the development of the APC-HUB. The goal of the APC-HUB is to build a strong network for international cooperation on combatting cybercrime.

The idea for creating this Hub goes back to 2015 when the World Bank was developing the Toolkit on Combatting Cybercrime: Tools and Capacity Building for Emerging Technologies while the Republic of Korea was interested to use the tool in their region. During this process, the GFCE was invited to join as a partner. After two challenging years due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the inaugural event took place in the first week of November 2022.

The APC-HUB has five mission statements:

  1. Provide Training for countries in the Asia-Pacific Region
  2. Share ideas on how to combat cybercrime
  3. Reinforce the capacity of national research and development policy
  4. Build a strong network of international cooperation
  5. Become a focal point of cybersecurity in the Asia-Pacific region

1st APC-HUB Training Session in Korea in November 2022

For this first training week, three countries were invited, Cambodia, Lao PDR and Papua New Guinea. Their delegations ranged from Policymakers to Law enforcement officers and from Diplomats to Judiciaries. The agenda varied from national cyber policies to cybercrime legislation to Incident Response and international cooperation. At the end of the week, each delegation also showcased an action plan based on a scenario. Thanks to the outstanding organization by APC-HUB’s team lead by Director, Mr. DongKun Ahn, it proved to be a successful week which will serve as an example for training weeks to come.

What is the role of the GFCE in the APC-HUB?

The role of the GFCE Secretariat is to offer its global network, to identify and connect relevant stakeholders to the APC-HUB, to further develop regional cooperation and to provide strategic advice on the development of the APC-HUB. Also, the GFCE Working Group C on Cybercrime serves as platform to exchange knowledge and support the activities of the APC-HUB. Moving forward and with the establishment of the GFCE Regional Hubs, it is also foreseen that the GFCE regional liaisons will have an active role in these efforts. Mr Wouter Veenstra, Head of Global Outreach and Partnerships at the GFCE Secretariat, is appointed as the co-chair of the Consultation Group of the APC-HUB.

The GFCE looks forward to continue the close cooperation with KSPO and the World Bank in order to serve many more countries to come in the Asia-Pacific region on the important fight against cybercrime. To learn more about the APC-HUB, please visit the website at www.apc-hub.org.

The lack of cybersecurity capacity building frameworks in Asia

News item | 20-06-2016

Asian nations are experiencing rapid development of ICT and are dealing with various cyber security threats on government computer network and critical sectors. According to the FireEye Advanced Threat Report for the Asia Pacific, Advanced Persistent Threat (APT) activity was consistently high in South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan during the first six months of 2014 which contributed to more than 80% of the total APTs in the region. The region was 35% more likely to be targeted by advanced cyberattacks compared to the global average. A customized capacity building initiative for the region for Asia is therefore crucial. However a well-defined framework that focuses on Asian cybersecurity capacity building has yet to be developed.

Written by: Dr. Amirudin Abdul Wahab, Chief Executive Officer at Cybersecurity Malaysia, the National Cyber Security Centre under the Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI) in Malaysia.

Cyber capacity building via ASEAN

The issues of capacity building have been addressed in several discussions at the ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF) level. The Council for Security Cooperation in Asia Pacific, through its Memorandum No. 20 entitled “Ensuring a Safer Cyber Security Environment” has recommended ARF to implement capacity building and technical assistance measures. It recommended that priority should be given to strengthen the cybersecurity crisis management in all states.

The ASEAN ICT Master Plan 2015 that was launched in 2011 provides a framework for the development of Information and Communication Technology (ICT) within the ASEAN region. It stated that the strategic thrust of human capacity development is to develop competent and skilled human capital in ICT. The development of ICT Skill Standards definition and certification in information system and network security has been initiated as one its prioritized projects. ASEAN has also established the ASEAN Network Security Action Council to establish a common framework for network security which includes capacity building and training programs for national CERTs.

Avenues for cooperation on cyber capacity building in Asia

Currently, a holistic cybersecurity capacity building initiative that can be deployed across the region within Asia is not available. The creation of an Asian platform for security cooperation should be an option to consider as Asian countries share common values, culture and norms which are appropriate in cybersecurity capacity building collaboration. Existing capacity building programs are not congruent and streamlined with the regional interests that share common cultural values and security interests. A holistic framework of cybersecurity professional certification is therefore required to address the needs in developing and nurturing expertise as well  as technical know-how in the cybersecurity human capital in the region as well as enabling private-public partnerships, multi-level collaboration and creating skills pathway for the growth of the cybersecurity industry.

The Global Accredited Cybersecurity Education

Malaysia has established the Global Accredited Cybersecurity Education (ACE) Scheme which is currently in the development stage. Interested parties can submit their interest to participate as development team member. The objectives of the Global ACE Scheme are as follows:

  1. To create a world class competent work-force in cybersecurity;
  2. To establish a professional certification programme that is recognized by the  government, private sector, industries and NGOs within the OIC countries;
  3. To promote the development of cybersecurity professional programmes within the region;
  4. To provide cybersecurity professionals with the right knowledge, skills, abilities and experience;
  5. To ensure that accredited personnel are independently assessed and committed to a consistent and high quality service level;
  6. To be the cybersecurity professional training centres/programme for OIC countries and ASEAN.

The development of skilled cybersecurity professionals cannot be attained overnight. It will take time to get the right people into this profession. To address the human capital gap requires a combination of strategic public-private collaboration and incentives from various parties such as scholarships, mentorships or internships to guaranteed employment. We need to create a knowledge generation capable of fending off the ever-evolving cybersecurity threats. Last but not least, we need to truly produce high-value and skilled digital citizens of the future that will keep our cyber space safe as we head into a new digital economy order. 

New additions to the GFCE network: Thailand & CCSIRS

News item | 26-01-2018

We are proud to announce the GFCE has welcomed both Thailand and the Center for Cyber Security and International Relations Studies (CCSIRS) to take part in the GFCE’s efforts in building global cyber capacities. Thailand is our 64th GFCE member and CCSIRS our 7th GFCE partner. We look forward to a fruitful collaboration with both parties.

Please read a quick introduction of our new GFCE member and partner below.

Thailand

In Thailand the Electronic Transactions Development Agency (ETDA), Ministry of Digital Economy and Society (MDES), plays a major role in developing, promoting and supporting electronic transactions in Thailand. It also provides supporting infrastructure that facilitates electronic transactions, helps businesses related to electronic transactions and creates secure, safe and reliable ICT standards. Since 2011, ETDA’s primary mission is to build confidence and support in online transactions, while providing support for the Electronic Transactions Commission and related agencies.  EDTA advocates for an increase in the volume and value of electronic transactions and provides technical and practical services related to electronic transactions in Thailand. 

The Center for Cyber Security and International Relations Studies

The Center for Cyber Security and International Relations Studies (CCSIRS) is part of the CSSII and the Department of Political and Social Sciences at the University of Florence. CCSIRS was established in 2015 with the aim of enhancing the current understanding of cyberspace, and in particular to analyze the influence and impact this domain has on the Italian national security and global international system. Among key Center’s objectives is the development and promotion of a global culture of cyber security, including the facilitation of private-public partnerships. The Center deploys a multidisciplinary approach, merging the traditional political, strategic and military studies with computer sciences. Bringing together recognized domestic and international experts from various fields and countries, the Center continues to forge international research and practice alliances to advance its objectives.

GFCE Southeast Asia Regional Meeting Narrative Report 2023

The Southeast Asia Regional Meeting that took place on October 17th, 2023, focused on Catalysing Cyber Synergy: Empowering Southeast Asia’s Digital Future. The regional meeting served as an essential platform for ASEAN Member States and other stakeholders in the region to gather and discuss cyber capacity building needs and best practices. This regional meeting focused on strengthening collaboration; identifying country-specific cyber priorities; fostering cyber expertise exchange; encouraging cyber capacity building; promoting regional cybersecurity cooperation; and facilitating digital transformation.   

Cyber Dialogue: Capacity Building Needs in the Critical Information Infrastructure Sectors

Written by: Allan Salim Cabanlong, Regional Director South-East Asia

On November 22, 2023, at Novotel Manila Phillipines, CyberGuardians Inc organized the “Cyber Dialogue: Capacity Building Needs in the Critical Information Infrastructure Sectors” in collaboration with Women in Security Alliance Philippines (WiSAP) with the support of the Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE) Southeast Asia Hub. The dialogue addressed the evolving cybersecurity threats. The event was attended by a diverse group of stakeholders from the Department of Information and Communications Technology (DICT), the Department of Trade and Industry – Bureau of Philippine Standards (DTI-BPS), the National Security Council (NSC), the National Intelligence Coordinating Agency (NICA), the private sector, and Civil Society Organisations (CSOs).

The forum presented an ideal opportunity for key stakeholders to address the urgent need for improved cybersecurity measures, particularly in the telecommunications sectors. The discussions emphasized the necessity of a unified cybersecurity standards, including the Cybersecurity Knowledge Base (CKB) and Network Equipment Security Assurance Scheme (NESAS), among other ISO/IEC Standards. The event promoted a collaborative and mutual understanding environment among participants by acknowledging the importance of unified cybersecurity standards, namely CKB and NESAS, and emphasizing that ensuring cyberspace security is a collective responsibility. The dialogue was also a testament to the power of diverse perspectives in finding innovative solutions to complex problems in building and retaining cyber institutions.

Key takeaways from the dialogue included the need to strengthen the capacity of these sectors through effective training, education, and awareness programs. There was a shared understanding of the importance of promoting a culture of cybersecurity that includes robust security measures and policies, proactive monitoring, and rapid response mechanisms. The event also highlighted the pivotal role of women in the field of cybersecurity. The partnership with WiSAP underscored the importance of gender diversity in the field, which brings unique insights and approaches to tackling cybersecurity issues.

The dialogue concluded with a commitment from all stakeholders to continue working collaboratively towards the development and implementation of robust unified cybersecurity standards, thus ensuring the security and integrity of the region’s digital infrastructure. The Cyber Dialogue has undoubtedly set a new standard for cybersecurity discussions in the region. It has positioned itself as a beacon for future collaborations and has sparked a serious conversation about the need for a unified and robust approach to cybersecurity.

GFCE-Australian support for the Women in International Security and Cyberspace (Women in Cyber) Fellowship Network

Sponsor

Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade, Commonwealth of Australia

Duration

February 2022 – December 2024

Project objectives

The Women in International Security and Cyberspace Fellowship program aims to ensure equal and effective representation of women diplomats from all regions in United Nations cyber negotiations. The program seeks to develop cyber governance capacities, providing access to workshops and training as well as direct support to fellows for their participation in UN processes on international security and cyberspace.  Long-term goals include the increased capacity of women diplomats to participate in UN discussions, increased awareness of the gender digital divide, and the development of indigenous national capacity to facilitate involvement in UN cyber discussion.  

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Southeast Asia regional meeting 2022

The meeting was held in partnership with the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore during Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW). 

The focus was on the UN development agenda and the role of the region in it, as well as the Southeast Asia cyber capacity building landscape more generally. 

It was great to see that members of the GFCE Community in attendance at the SICW participated in the Southeast Asia regional meeting. 

During SICW, Singapore’s Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security, Mr. Teo Chee Hean, announced the creation of a GFCE Southeast Asia liaison who will connect the region and ASCCE’s existing efforts more closely with other GFCE members and partners including GFCE Liaisons and Hubs from other regions. 

Southeast Asia regional meeting 2021

The Global Forum on Cyber Expertise (GFCE), in collaboration with Cyber Security Agency (CSA) Singapore, held the inaugural GFCE Southeast Asia Regional Meeting in October 2021 in the margins of Singapore International Cyber Week (SICW) 2021. This regional meeting brought together over 90 stakeholders from the GFCE community and ASEAN to identify opportunities and challenges for cyber capacity-building in the region and share good practices and knowledge.