Vietnam digital economy has progressed rapidly in recent years but challenges in network security require the country to build a comprehensive national strategy to address network vulnerabilities
Representative of a company introduces a security solution to visitors at the Vietnam Security Summit 2019 in Hanoi. (Photo: courtersy of the event organiser)
Vietnam’s internet economy reached 9 billion USD in 2018, making up 4 percent of Vietnam’s gross domestic product (GDP) and tripling that of 2015, and was heading to 33 billion USD by 2025, according to the e-Conomy SEA 2018 released by Temasek (Google).
However, the rapid expansion of the digital economy has been accompanied by an increase in network security risks in all respects, including new risks, the number of incidents and the level of damage.
According to a Kaspersky Lab report released last month, Vietnam was among the most targeted nations for banking malware in 2018, accounting for 3 percent of global attacks. Russia was in first with 22 percent, followed by Germany (20 percent) and India (4 percent).
In January 2019 alone, Vietnam suffered more than 800,000 malicious codes on a daily basis. If calculated by the percentage of internet users, 21.5 percent of users in Vietnam faced the threat of being attacked.
Kaspersky said cyber security threats had become more and more sophisticated in the digital era.
The latest survey by the Ministry of Information and Communications this week revealed that 63 percent of 90 State agencies and organisations across sectors, cities and provinces had only paid modest attention to information security (level C). Just 12 percent had started to look at information security (level D), which included big ministries such as the Ministry of Industry and Trade and Ministry of Science and Technology.
Only 15 percent of State agencies had adequate measures to ensure information security.
"We have different solutions at a certain level to ensure network security but lack a comprehensive national strategy as well as a specific implementation process. It is clear that information and network security is a weakness in Vietnam," said Vu Quoc Thanh, vice chairman and general secretary of the Vietnam Information Security Association (VNISA).
According to Thanh, awareness and capability for safe use of the internet by the majority of Vietnamese users was still limited.
More affordable smartphones and mobile data plans have driven the growth of internet users in Vietnam. The country has about 64 million internet users (approximately 67 percent of population), placing it among the top 20 countries with the highest internet penetration.
In particular, 72 percent of people access the internet through smartphones, statistics from the US-based survey company We Are Social showed.
More and more businesses have applied digital technology to production, business activities and management, which is reflected in the rapidly increasing rate of new technologies such as cloud computing, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation.
A survey of about 5,000 businesses in Vietnam conducted by the Vietnam E-Commerce Association revealed that 43 percent of enterprises used websites, 32 percent used social networks and 15 percent used mobile applications to sell their products in 2018.
Advertising has shifted from newspaper and television to social networks, search engines and mobile applications.
Nguyen Quang Dong, Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and Media Development, said the complexity, multifaceted and correlation among different subjects beyond the national border made policy-making more complicated without a single solution.
“Vietnam needs a comprehensive policy and multi-solution system for information and network security that involves all State, business and internet users,” Dong said, adding that more efforts should be spent on communication and education programmes on internet safety to raise awareness and skills among Vietnamese internet users.