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Action plan to block cyberattacks in Vietnam

By Allan M. Cytryn, principal at Risk Masters International, and John E. Savage, An Wang Professor of Computer Science at Brown University. Both are members of The Boston Global Forum.

We recommend a series of short- and long-term actions to block cyberattacks in Vietnam. The ultimate goals of these actions are to 1) ensure that the appropriate international agencies are fully engaged in addressing this issue and its longer-term implications; 2) operationally address the issue immediately and restore reliable, safe operations for air travel, and 3) more broadly enhance Vietnam’s cyber-resilience so that it is less vulnerable to such incidents.

Ensure that the appropriate international agencies are engaged: 

  • This is an airline-security issue. We recommend reporting it to the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and requesting its assistance. While that agency may not have cybersecurity expertise, its leaders are very concerned about security and thus may be able to help address the problem.
  • We recommend reporting the late July incident affecting Vietnamese airports to FIRST, the global Forum for Incident Response and Security Teams. FIRST describes itself as the “premier organization and recognized global leader in (computer-security) incident response.” As you can see from its Web site, it can provide much help with long- and short-term solutions.
  • This serious incident should also be reported to other international bodies, including ASEAN, the G7, the G20 and UNGA.

Address the issue immediately and restore reliable, safe operations:

  • Consultants should be hired to do a forensic analysis of the affected systems. Friendly nations, such as the United States, can advise on companies that are highly qualified to do this analysis and that can be trusted as well.
  • Companies that we would recommend include Crowdstrike and Fidelis.

Longer-term, more broadly enhance the cyber-resilience of Vietnam:

  • Implement broad-based cybereducation at multiple levels.
  • Train local specialists in computer security.
    • The Vietnam Education Foundation (VEF) can help to develop university-level cybersecurity-education programs.
    • The Boston Global Forum can also help with this effort.
    • Vietnam could also emulate the U.S. Computer Science for All program, which encourages young Americans to acquire computer-science skills.

Educate policymakers and academics about Internet-governance issues.

  • The DiPLO Foundation has cybersecurity programs to help diplomats acquire the knowledge necessary to participate in international policy development.
  • The Boston Global Forum can also help with this matter.
  • Develop programs in cyberhygiene for the general population and develop policies and practices to ensure that the general population is appropriately educated in this area:
    • Begin classroom training in early education and continue through all levels of schooling.
    • Provide online courses to let all persons, including those not in school, to be properly educated.
    • Consider policies and incentives to encourage people to take the cyberhygiene courses.
    • Develop a cyber-resilient infrastructure.
  • Broadly adopt the principle of cyber-resilience across all the IT and communications infrastructure in Vietnam.
  • Jumpstart the process by targeting key industries, individual businesses and other organizations that have the highest level of exposure and risk.
    • Consider “pooling” or sharing resources and teams across multiple organizations where appropriate and practical to maximize the speed and effectiveness of the initial programs.
    • Identify and address reasonable impediments to success, including funding, product availability, staff availability and training.
  • Align these efforts with training goals, using these implementation activities to further the nation’s plan to train individuals who can then apply their learning to other enterprises.