Internet and network security in Vietnam

(November 20, 2015) – “Vietnam needs to prepare to grab the unique opportunity the internet can bring and to prevent the risk of being attacked in many ways on the internet”, Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Huong wrote on the 18th anniversary of the Vietnam Internet Connection Day November 19.

Internet plays a key role in shaping a new world which is far beyond the imagination of not only normal people, but also those who invented it.

Vietnam, since the day it officially connected to the internet on November 19, 1997, has been witnessing a lot of big social changes, both positive and negative.

Vietnam has about 41 million internet users, or 41 percent of the total population. About 26 million Vietnamese access social networks from their mobile devices for two hours on average every day. Search engines and social networks like Youtube, Facebook, Twitter and Viber all have been operating freely in Vietnam. Internet has reached out to everyone, including the people in rural and remote areas.

With internet, the virtual space has taken shape and existed independently from the physical space, while every individual, with small electronics devices, can access the global network. The nations/organizations/individuals who can control the internet technology will gain strategic advantages.

Therefore, all the entities in the international system have been trying every possible means to approach and master the internet technology in order to hold strategic advantages.

Stemming from this point of view, Vietnam needs to approach the issue as follows:

First, the expansion of internet is inevitable. No country or company, no institution or individual can stop the movement. Instead of preventing the movement, a civilized nation needs to ‘ride’ the wave and take control over the information revolution. Vietnam should consider itself as the ‘subject’, not the ‘object’ of the virtual network.

Vietnam needs to be consistent in following the strategy on expanding and mastering internet so as to effectively exploit the good points of the virtual network. Many individuals, companies and institutions in Vietnam have successfully taken full advantage of the network to popularize their products and services.

A Vietnamese, Nguyen Ha Dong, had a global success when starting up his business with his mobile game Flappy Bird, welcomed all over the world.

The Internet must continue to play an important role in the knowledge-based economy Vietnam is striving for.

Second, it is necessary for Vietnam to define the risks so as to prevent them and minimize the negative things the internet may bring.

The internet technology allows some individuals to conduct attacks to cause serious consequences. Network security is the most important and complicated component in non-traditional security, since even one individual with one computer from somewhere can damage the prestige of many other individuals and institutions. The person can even destroy the tangible infrastructure network with just some operations with a computer.

Stuxnet, the attack on Iran’s nuclear power program, for example, broke up the program, and the power of the attack was compared with the power of a limited military strike.

Vietnam has seen some individuals, through blogs, websites and social websites, creating false information to defame other individuals and organizations. This could be considered a type of internet-based terrorism at the slightest level.

Vietnam also has sustained more serious terrorism cases, including denial-of-service attack (DDOS) and  attacks for hijacking.

It can also be hit by terrorist networks from heavier  denial-of-service attack DDOS, attack intrusion within the control system network administrator. Vietnam has also become a subject of espionage network, the risk of information security should be “theft” through existing networks increasingly obvious.

Other countries, having been aware of the risks, have set up their network security units. Vietnam also has been and will continue setting up combat forces to take the initiative in preventing and fighting against risks.

Third, Vietnam needs to lay down policies and rules on the operations of the internet. The rules on internet security raised by the leadership of the Boston Global Forum need to be popularized for the sake of a ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ internet.

Internet is not simply a technology concept, but has become an important cultural and educational environment. And in order to have ‘clean’ and ‘pure’ internet, Vietnam not only needs powerful internet security system. Individuals need to build up a ‘firewall’ for themselves.

Lieutenant General Nguyen Van Huong