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Key Elements for Better Data Insights

September 28, 2021
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TM ONE Experts Reveal Three Critical Keys to Counter Cyber Security Threats

November 10, 2021
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Cybersecurity is a major concern in today’s world. Organisations need to rethink their approach to cybersecurity and go beyond just protecting their network.

Recent attacks on two major companies in Singapore – real estate group OY Group and Starhub, a telecom provider – were instances of an alarming surge of cyber-attacks around the globe. A mid-year 2021 global report from UK based cybersecurity specialist Acronis highlights that the average cost of a data breach was around US$3.56 million. The average ransomware payment increased by 33 per cent to more than USD100,000.

Covid-19 has further exposed multiple unauthorised excursions into an organisation’s information and processes. It is commonly asserted by experts that a cyber-attack is now a question of when and not if. Despite their best intentions, every organisation is continually at risk and is susceptible to such attacks, warned cybersecurity experts from TM ONE, the enterprise and public sector arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM), during the CYDES 2021 summit.

With the focus on diving deep into how public and private sectors can strengthen their cybersecurity preparedness, experts from a variety of fields gathered to openly share various insights, tools, tricks and approaches. A common consensus is that complexity is one of the real challenges to effective cybersecurity implementations in today’s hybrid Cloud era. Here are three critical keys to counter cyber security threats.

Securing faster ID authentication

Combining blockchain and biometric recognition offers a more robust and secure method of authenticating a user’s identity, said Rahmah Isahak, Assistant General Manager, Digital Identity Cluster, Innovative Solutions at TM ONE during the summit.

The Covid-19 pandemic has forced more organisations to find ways to complete transactions remotely and enable remote access to systems. As this trend is expected to continue, identity authentication of users is of vital importance to an organisation’s security and to drive seamless operations.

“A blockchain system allows data to be held collectively, which prevents any malicious tampering. Users can register their identity details into this system, and a cybersecurity organisation or service provider such as TM ONE will then ensure that it is impenetrable to hackers,” she explained.

TM ONE offers Blockchain Secure Authentication (BSA) as part of its Cyber Defence Centre’s (CYDEC) Digital Identity pillar, focusing on digital identity protection. It is a password-less authentication technology to avoid credential attacks, a condition when cybercriminals bypass organisational security measures and steal important data. This solution has its use cases in various verticals, such as in banking, financial services and insurance (BFSI), healthcare, social media services and retail sectors.

“Not only blockchain verification is secure, it is also fast. It is able to authenticate users in less than three seconds,” she said. “Combining a system with biometrics will enable the authentication process to be entirely password-less for employees.”

“Biometric technology, such as facial recognition systems, do not require users to memorise passwords. There are many cases in the media that show hackers accessing passwords, whereas biometric authentication helps organisations to sidestep password theft,” she added.

The future of security is automation

The second key highlight was automated cybersecurity systems. “Automation allows IT teams to optimise resources while reducing human error in security responses,” explained Dr Azman Ali, Head of Information Security Services, Professional Services at TM ONE, when he spoke at CYDES.

Automation and increasing digitisation are features that both include and go beyond cybersecurity systems, Dr Azman shared. “Mobile apps, Internet of Things (IoT), Artificial Intelligence (AI ) and automation can be used to replace the repetitive manual tasks as part of the government’s digital transformation efforts.”

“One example of this is data collection in the healthcare industry sector. A vast amount of new personal information is being generated that could potentially help to enhance pandemic handling,” said Dr Azman. He pointed out that: “Digital transformation initiatives will help better manage this huge stream of data and assist in extrapolating actionable insights, but let’s not forget, that this need to be done securely while making privacy a top priority.”

Partnering with cybersecurity experts

Many businesses do not have the required tools and skills to protect themselves in today’s highly complex and rapidly changing threat landscape. In light of this, the option of working with a security partner is rapidly becoming another key solution. TM ONE offers a subscription service that includes world-class tools to uncover vulnerabilities in organisations and, additionally, helps to upskill an organisation’s internal security team.

The cyber squad at TM ONE comprises architects, consultants and analysts. Architects focus on designing security systems, which the consultants help to enhance. Meanwhile, analysts will provide critical security information by continually assessing upcoming threats, explained Dr Azman.

As part of its world-class cybersecurity portfolio, TM ONE provides 16 products, which include identity access, IoT, Cloud, and others, to secure systems from today’s threats and breaches. Global communications firm Telefonica, which works directly with TM ONE as its global Security Operations Centre partner, helps to actively consult and also advises on cybersecurity matters. Leveraging on the expertise of both companies, Malaysian organisations can be assured of fortified cybersecurity solutions to build their cyber resiliency and trust in the digital era.

As experts in Cloud services, TM ONE was appointed as one of the cloud service providers for the Malaysian government in April 2021, said Dr Azman. “TM has played a huge part during the pandemic with its work with healthcare organisations and in creating internet infrastructure.”

Moving forward, connecting the digital dots requires a holistic stance in today’s highly challenging environment, with cybersecurity as a foundational part of the mix, said TM ONE’s experts during the summit. Their positioning of three keys — authentication, automation and assistance – will help organisations to greatly strengthen their cybersecurity preparedness.

Digital Skills to Boost Malaysia’s Civil Servants

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The transition of Malaysia digital transformation need to be done right. Learn more about MyDigital on how this will impact our civil servants and economy.

Reflecting the global surge of upskilling people for the increasingly digital normal, Asian countries are exploring new avenues of equipping their citizens with essential skills. Singapore, for example, is using computer games to train its naval officers while Thailand is tapping YouTube to help prepare its citizens.

Malaysia remains steadfast on its vision of becoming a regional digital leader as evidenced by the launch of its MyDIGITAL, a 10-year bid to revitalise its digital economy vision. As part of a nationwide implementation campaign, two digital companies – Cloud Connect and TM ONE, the enterprise and public sector business arm of Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) – have collaborated to establish the Cloud Connect Academy. It aims to upskill government officials, and is part of a wide-scale effort to digitalise Malaysia’s public sector.

The academy will inculcate individuals with the necessary skills to work with digital technologies associated with Cloud, Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Internet of Things (IoT). Hanafiah Hassan, Managing Director of Cloud Connect shared further insights into the academy’s role in supporting Malaysia’s overarching digital transformation.

Pivoting to ‘future-ready roles’

We have seen a significant shift in public sector careers, Hanafiah said. System analysts and website developers are in the process of being replaced by ‘future jobs’ – such as ‘cloud consultants’ and ‘cloud engineers’, he said.

“Cloud Connect Academy aims to upskill civil servants to meet new demands on the job. It will equip them with knowledge on AI, big data, IoT and cloud computing,” he noted.

According to Hanafiah, public sector staff will learn how to create apps through the academy, which will enable the government to expand its digital services. One example is MySejahtera, Malaysia’s all-in-one app for managing its national Covid-19 vaccination programme as well as to help with contact tracing, connect citizens with testing and support facilities, and mapping Covid-19 hotspots.

Public sector workers will be introduced to DevOps, a systematic approach that helps development and operations teams to build and roll out tech services more rapidly and efficiently, he explained.

In addition, the academy’s offerings include new methods of website creation for public sector IT services, Hanafiah said. “Previously, it took three months to build a site; however, the introduction of these new systems will reduce the development time to a matter of just 15 minutes – without requiring any change to the coding language.”

He revealed that the programme was initially aimed solely at IT staff within the public sector agencies but later was extended to include all public servants. “This is in line with Malaysia’s digital transformation strategy, which plans to have 100 per cent of civil servants become digitally literate, and 80 per cent of the government will use Cloud storage.”

Cloud’s pivotal role

When the Malaysian government’s Economic Planning Unit (EPU) announced the MyDIGITAL initiative in February 2021, one of its key goals was to reskill the current workforce. This would ensure Malaysians ‘stay relevant’ in a world rapidly moving into the era of the 4th Industrial Revolution (4IR).

Cloud technologies and systems form a fundamental part of the MyDIGITAL initiative, wrote the IDC. TM, Microsoft, Google, and Amazon have been appointed to build and manage Cloud services in Malaysia. These initiatives will help to reduce operating costs and enhance analytical efficiency, IDC highlighted.

Hanafiah confirms that: “TM has helped to support the academy’s Cloud computing curriculum. Its lead role as a Cloud service provider to the government is testament to TM’s world-class level of skills and extensive experience.”

Extending the talent base

Looking ahead, Hanafiah commented: “Cloud Connect Academy can play a significant role as an upskilling platform, not only for the public sector but also for graduates. The academy’s vision extends to support the new generation that is now entering the workforce to acquire the essential future-ready skill sets to greatly enhance their employability level.”

“Students will be taught ‘modern application’, ‘modern infrastructure’ and ‘modern processes,” he further explained. “Modern applications require moving away from older programming systems like Java and pivoting to programming frameworks that are more convenient and useable by a greater range of staff.”

“Modern infrastructure involves transforming legacy hardware into a Cloud environment,” he added. “The curriculum for graduates encourages the incorporation of new Cloud-native technologies into existing infrastructures, as part of an essential and timely shift from legacy systems.”

“Additionally, a modern process which involves Agile practices that advocate adaptive planning, cross-functional teams, evolutionary development, early delivery and continual improvement, encourages flexible responses to change,” concluded Hanafiah.

The upskilling of public sector staff is vital as key component of Malaysia’s vision to accelerate the implementation of digital technologies into its public sector. In addition, this talent push will help smooth the transition from old job roles into the future ready roles.

Digitalisation calls for intensifying Zero Trust to combat persistence in attacks

November 02, 2021
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TM ONE experts share insights on implementing a Zero Trust approach to guard against new cybersecurity challenges.

TM ONE experts share insights on implementing a Zero Trust approach to guard against new cybersecurity challenges

All governments and organisations today need to be aware that they are fully at risk from cyber-attacks, as demonstrated by recent high profile media reports of breaches in critical infrastructures – such as Colonial Pipeline – to large multinational organisations.

According to a recent Ponemon Institute survey, 44% of organisations experienced a third-party data breach in the last 12 months that resulted in the misuse of sensitive or confidential information. 63% of organisations say that remote access is their weakest attack surface.

Cybersecurity professionals must learn to flexibly adapt when new challenges arise in a scenario wherein 2021, cybersecurity experts claim there are 10 types of hackers ranging from white hat, black hat, grey hat, script kiddies to activists and malicious insiders.

The current consensus among white hat hackers and cybersecurity specialists is to advise the government and organisations to pivot from detection to prevention strategies, which will be affected by reducing the attack surface and preventing known and unknown attacks. These days, no organisation can trust luck to avoid attacks. It is just a matter of when and how to mitigate and recover from a successful attack.

Coming together at the CYDES 2021 conference, these experts discussed the areas in which organisations are most vulnerable. They also shared the latest cyber tools and strategies to help organisations adapt.

Interestingly, experts from Telekom Malaysia Berhad (TM) identified the malware as the cyberthreat that has consistently prevailed over decades and been weaponised in attacks, primarily those involving critical infrastructure. 

 What is the current challenge?

During the past three (3) years, malware has become increasingly sophisticated, a step above previous versions, explained Raja Azrina Raja Othman, Chief Information Security Officer at TM. The energy sector, a key aspect of a country’s critical national infrastructure, saw significant malware used for attackers’ persistence in compromised systems, she shared.

One example of this occurred in 2017 when malware was introduced into an oil refinery in Saudi Arabia. The malicious programmes were designed to shut down safety systems, increasing the likelihood of a catastrophic explosion, wrote Wired.

“Amongst security practitioners, we understand traditional malware defences have proven ineffective,” said Raja Azrina. Protection mechanisms should continue to evolve.  For example, the way that organisations protect access points such as laptops “are changing and will continue to change.”

Moving to the Cloud without proper protections in place constitutes another challenge, Raja Azrina pointed out. She has seen organisations “that migrate without sufficient planning”, exposing valuable data to vulnerabilities.

Email servers present another attack surface for hackers to introduce viruses and malware. This has led to the loss of critical data and “can culminate in ransomware attacks,” she said.

Another example, a scam email sent to a Sydney hedge fund that contained a fake Zoom invitation. When users clicked on it, a malicious software programme was secretly implanted into the system, leading to losses of more than US$580,000, reported Australian Financial Review.

Implementing Zero Trust and data residency

Sometimes called ‘perimeterless’ security, a zero-trust security model is not a new approach to the design and implementation of IT systems – originally coined by a Forrester analyst in the early 1990s. However, it is rapidly becoming a favoured recommendation to counter vulnerabilities arising from the use of third party solutions in today’s complex IT information architecture.

“Perimeter defences and network segmentation remain highly relevant,” explained Raja Azrina. Segmentation helps to restrict access from one system to another, reducing the attack surface that hackers can target, and containing breaches as they occur.

Zero Trust is indeed a valuable approach. This model authenticates users each time they access an organisation’s network, systems or applications, blocking unauthorised users.

TM’s enterprise and public sector business arm, TM ONE, provides Zero Trust systems to help secure networks. Such a provision implements strong identity requirements to ensure networks are more ‘watertight’ against malicious intruders.

Furthermore, Raja Azrina highlighted data residency as a top concern when securing the Cloud. Different jurisdictions apply different laws to data, which can lead to legal complications arising when data is stored overseas.

One benefit of keeping data close to home is that organisations have easy access to their data centre. This is one of the reasons why TM ONE has built its Cloud centres in Malaysia, she explained.

Additional safeguards

Prevention is the best product protection and TM ONE provides additional cyber safeguards via two (2) tools that are available amongst its wide cyber security product portfolio.

First, a firewall creates a set of rules for websites to block malicious attempts to access information. TM ONE provides threat management by combining firewalls, anti-virus and anti-intrusion systems at the entry points to networks, according to its website.

Second, TM ONE helps to encrypt data transmitted across the internet, only allowing the sender and receiver to decrypt and view the data. Introducing this system would give citizens a trust point when accessing the site, maintaining the reputation of an organisation’s cybersecurity.

Another takeaway is that cybersecurity must be viewed as a marathon and not a sprint. Organisations must be able to sustain protections to keep ahead of evolving threats. Malware has recently proven to be a significant threat to public sector institutions and critical national infrastructures. A more robust and strategic approach of adopting Zero Trust, storing data locally, and the use of proactive security tools are essential in today’s rapidly changing environment.

Is your cloud execution intelligent enough?

October 28, 2021
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Is your cloud execution intelligent enough? Learn more about how Cloud Intelligence holds the key to unlocking business value and driving innovation from TM ONE.

Many digital transformation conversations among business leaders used to revolve around how to manage the transition from traditional brick-and-mortar to digital models and processes. Today, almost all  businesses, whether fully online or bricks and clicks, would be considered digital businesses. Even roadside hawkers have supplemented the way they do business by using Grab or Food Panda services, compelled especially by lockdown requirements in the COVID-19 period.

People are incredibly adaptive when facing a crisis, and Malaysian businesses have robustly turned to seek out better, faster and more agile ways of innovating. With COVID-19 becoming endemic over time, digital transformation continues to accelerate as an ideal path to growth and recovery.

The escalation of digital adoption has been confirmed by IDC’s latest release of Worldwide Black Book: 3rd Platform Edition, which shows Asia/Pacific’s ICT spending, including IT spending in addition to telecom services and new technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI), Robotics, Cloud, Analytics, and IoT, will increase by 9.3% in 2021 to reach US$1.3 trillion. 

This healthy growth reflects the pivot by organisations towards rapid adoption of new technologies to face business disruptions as well as to drive growth.

Intelligent Cloud – A checkpoint of your cloud journey

From my conversations with customers and partners, I am pleased that more business leaders in Malaysia increasingly recognise that Cloud computing is the heart of productive  digitalisation. This bodes well for the nation as it demonstrates that almost all organisations are now ‘getting it right’ – by leveraging the power of Cloud in one way or the other.

However, success is relative, not absolute. As a winner is usually the one who runs ahead of others, just getting it right is not enough anymore. The real prize today rests in whether your business is ‘intelligent’ enough.

Of course, winning does require enterprises to be able to meet customers’ consistently changing needs, at speed. It also demands agility and data-driven, automated processes. Compared to a traditional cloud system, an Intelligent Cloud approach takes transformation to a higher level of performance because it is aligned to the ongoing journey of digital transformation. 

An intelligent Cloud will include the use of edge computing to process data closer to where it is collected, and it will make use of AI and machine learning (ML) to deliver actionable  insights, at greater speed and enhanced efficiency. 

Real world business benefits from intelligent cloud are demonstrated by the example of a large logistics company which saw speed and efficiency wins. Some of the gains included improvements of 30% in pickup efficiency and 5% in transportation path planning through use of AI in pickup path planning; while waybill single-check improved 3 times and VAT invoice processing rates improved by 10 times.

To become an intelligent digital enterprise, organisations need to leverage three (3) main elements – intelligent infrastructure that is flexible, scalable, automated and predictive;  intelligent data, which is secure and collected at a massive scale; and intelligent applications and business processes that are powered by AI/ML.

To take stock of your current Cloud execution and to assess whether it is intelligent enough, I would suggest the IDC’s Cloud Maturity Framework.

At the ad hoc level, an organisation may still be exploring project-specific Cloud applications as a reaction to the competition. As it starts to build more applications on the Cloud, it evolves into becoming a digital explorer, but is still considered to be in a reactive mode, and therefore results in a poorly integrated solutions environment. 

Only by moving up the Cloud maturity level, to becoming a digital transformer or disruptor – will it possess the capabilities to survive and move upwards in this fiercely competitive and challenging era.

Indeed, in some sectors where digital transformation has become an absolute imperative, such as the financial services sector, more organisations have grown into becoming digital players or transformers to stay ahead.

Cloud intelligence – the Cloud that matters

Powered by AI, the application of Enterprise Intelligence in the Cloud is helping to successfully modernise industries. Rapidly evolving technologies have helped to form a foundation of core Cloud benefits, which include enhanced efficiencies, facilitating core expertise and to create trend-setting achievements.

Examples of what these frontier technologies offer include data enablement services such as big data, data lake and data warehouse – as well as containerisation and microservices – which are tantamount to a key engine to upgrade industry intelligence.

Together with intelligent edge and intelligent network connectivity, which will be further enhanced by the emergence of 5G, we can confidently look forward to an even greater surge of implementations of innovative services and solutions in the market in the near future.

The additional critical attributes of a well envisioned and managed digital transformation strategy comprise: robust, reliable, and low latency connectivity; excellent Cloud and  cybersecurity design and implementation, which must be effectively tailored to the needs of your organisation; and probably the most important in my personal opinion is the best team of  professional and managed services to help facilitate and optimise your Cloud journey throughout the pre-, during- and post-deployment phases.

TM ONE Alpha Edge – the Intelligent Industry Cloud Platform

Deeply committed to taking transformation forward for Malaysian enterprises and the public sector, TM ONE’s Alpha Edge, the hyperscaler Cloud service and part of Cloud Alpha offerings, is powered by AI capabilities to enable organisations to seamlessly onboard the intelligent Cloud. We are also continuously developing tailored solutions for key verticals in collaboration with partners and customers.

Our comprehensive suite of solutions encompasses intelligent Cloud, robust and multi-type digital connectivity, cybersecurity, local expertise in professional and managed services, and which rightly positions TM ONE to help industries revolutionise themselves, reshaping businesses and cities, and bringing new possibilities to Malaysia in the important days that lie ahead.

There is no limit to innovation. Any organisation, big or small, can innovate ground-breaking solutions to better serve its customers. To deliver the best solutions and customer experience, TM ONE works with the best partners. This is an important aspect of our commitment to taking transformation forward for all Malaysian enterprises and public sector institutions.

Click here to know more about TM ONE Alpha Edge.

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