Patriot refers to a Star news report “Your personal data on sale – cheap” and wishes to advise our politicians and all those in government that any cyber security breach – even if it involves the personal data and private information of citizens – has far-reaching implications for and raises serious concerns over national security.
This is not the first time in recent memory we read about such grave security breaches. And each time an expose is made, similar statements from officialdom are dished out.
This cannot be, and Patriot demands a permanent, effective and dependable resolve from all those in office charged with the responsibility of safeguarding citizens and the nation.
According to the news report, “personal data has been allegedly sold openly on the internet for a few ringgit.” The expose claims the site allows a person to be searched by name, address, phone number, identity card or military ID, or date of birth.
If this is not a serious breach of security that has far-reaching implications and consequences, then pray tell us what is.
The fact that this cyber security breach has taken place without the knowledge of and with a lack of vigilance from of all those responsible for safeguarding vital security information calls for an immediate national crisis response by none other than the prime minister himself.
If searching for someone via a MyKad number can reveal the person’s full name, date of birth, gender and house address, then Patriot deems this a very serious security matter. What more when detailed information, including MySejahtera vaccination information, and loans and credit card applications can be assessed by all and sundry through a paywall.
What is most worrisome is that all this data can be extracted by a mere Google search; it needs no high-tech hacking wizard.
While the Malaysian Personal Data Protection Department has responded saying it had requested that the website be blocked, Patriot believes this is not good enough. We question: where was the pre-emptive gatekeeping effort?
The chairman of cybersecurity firm LGMS Bhd and cybersecurity consultant Fong Choong Fook, who is reported to have analysed the website, said it was likely to have been created by Malaysians or people familiar with the local market.
This explanation by the expert raises more questions over the government’s and its paid officers’ vigilance and pre-emptive work in progress.
While Patriot recognises [the incidence of] cyber crimes is phenomenal, it is the duty and responsibility of the government, its ministers and all paid appointees and contracted service providers to guarantee the security of our personal data.
If citizens are required or compelled to furnish personal data for various official or government online applications or for services or registration, then the onus rests with the initiator to ensure that all security gatekeeping is not compromised.
As ex-service personnel, we know how the misuse of crucial personal data of citizens (and the government) can also jeopardise national security.
In these times of global extremism, when terrorism, for example, is a real threat, the inability to protect personal data cannot be tolerated.
Patriot demands immediate accountability from all those culpable in this matter of grave national interest. We register our concerns with serious patriotic intent, representing the ex-service personnel of the military and the police, and the interests of citizens.
Retired Brigadier General Mohd Arshad Raji is president of the National Patriots Association (Patriot) while retired Deputy Commissioner of Police Dato’ Zulkifli Mohamed is deputy president