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Ad hoc body to tackle rising cyberthreats

The government will set up the ad hoc National Cyber Security Committee (NCSC) in October in an effort to tackle cyberthreats more efficiently.

The committee will be chaired by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha and 30 members represented by economic and society ministries, state agencies and the private sector, according to a proposal from the Digital Economy and Society Ministry (DE) that was submitted to the cabinet secretariat office in August.

DE Minister Pichet Durongkaveroj said the proposal is expected to be approved by the cabinet next month and the ad hoc committee will be set up automatically.

Mr Pichet said the ad hoc NCSC will be responsible for formulating the national strategic cybersecurity draft and enhancing connectivity between government agencies and the private sector to handle increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats.

Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team, under the Electronic Transactions Development Agency, will be the main operational workforce for the committee.

The ad hoc committee will be officially transformed into the National Cyber Security Commission (NCSC) once the cybersecurity bill goes into effect, which is expected in the next six months, he said.

The minister said cyberattacks have become a critical point on the national agenda because state agencies, the private sector and the public have been increasingly threatened by fraud, scams, hacking, system attacks and malware.

The latest incident happened on Tuesday night, when Security research firm Armis Labs disclosed that a new attack vector is endangering mobile, desktop and IoT operating systems, including Android, iOS, Windows, Linux and the devices using them.

Called "Blueborne", the new vector spreads through the air and attacks devices via Bluetooth. Blueborne allows attackers to take control of devices, access corporate data and networks and spread malware to adjacent devices.

Mr Pichet said the DE Ministry had assigned ETDA with monitoring whether Blueborne is affecting any agencies or businesses, with no such infections having been reported so far.

Earlier, the DE ministry warned users of both fixed line and mobile networks to avoid using Bluetooth for some time, especially Android users.

Meanwhile, iOS users should upgrade their operating systems to at least version 10.

"It's hard to predict what the new threats will be in future. It's better to prevent [these issues] rather than resolve them," said Mr Pichet.

Mr Pichet said the government is working on the 20-year digital economy development roadmap digital transformation encompassing Security, Infrastructure, Government, Manpower and Applications (SIGMA).

In addition to the security mission, the government is also working on several infrastructure projects such as the nationwide implementation of broadband internet access.

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