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Ministry seeks help of ICT sector to end hacks

Sok Chan / Khmer Times Share:
A woman uses a smartphone in an office in Phnom Penh. KT/Mai Vireak

The Ministry of Posts and Telecom-munications is calling for the cooperation of all stakeholders in the ICT sector to solve a vulnerability in mobile phone networks that has led to a rise in the number of hacks in the kingdom.

Speaking during a meeting on security in the telecommunications sector, Tan Sopheak, deputy director of the department of ICT security at the ministry, said there has been a surge of hacking activity in Cambodia, with victims ranging from media companies to the websites and Facebook pages of different government agencies.

He said the attacks have been mostly enabled by weaknesses in the Signalling System No 7 (SS7), a network that connects one mobile phone to another. The vulnerability allows hackers to read text messages, listen to phone calls and track mobile phone users’ locations with just the knowledge of their phone number.

Mr Sopheak called on telecom companies to strengthen network security, while the ministry’s secretary of state, Kan Channmeta, asked for the collaboration of other stakeholders.

He said the government will liaise with mobile network operators, network service providers, internet service providers, and voice over IP (VoIP) service providers, asking them to evaluate their own systems and send yearly reports on the security of their networks.

“We will find mechanisms to work with local and international mobile operators to exchange information on security matters, while striving to increase our control of internet traffic,” he said.

Kalyan Achyutuni, chief information officer at Smart Axiata, said his company was already working to patch deficiencies in SS7.

“We take security very seriously. We hope that in the next few months we will have eliminated any issues with the network.

“I definitely understand the risks associated with SS7. They are a global threat,” Mr Achyutuni said, adding that educating users is also an essential part of the solution.

He said people must be careful about the links they click on and the applications they download.

Mr Channmeta agreed with Mr Achyutuni in the importance of raising awareness of cybersecurity issues among everyday internet users, and said the ministry will create a set of guidelines to help them keep safe in cyberspace.

“The ministry will also setup a hotline for users which they can use for support in cybersecurity matters,” he said.

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