As more people make the internet a part of their daily lives in Myanmar, the number of cybercrimes in the country has been increasing.
Most of these cases involve financial fraud and sexual threats. Worryingly, most people don’t know how to report these crimes when they happen, said U Ye Thura Thet, co-founder of the Myanmar Cyber Security Awareness Campaign, or Cyber Bay Kin.
Founded in 2018 by U Ye Thura Thet and Lennon Chang, a lecturer in criminology at Monash University, Australia, the campaign holds workshops to meet the requirements for training at organisations in the digital sector.
Cyber Bay Kin was launched in cooperation with the Ministry of Transportation and Communication’s National Cyber Security Centre, and is supported and funded by the Australian Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of its International Cyber Engagement Strategy, and the university’s School of Social Sciences.
While Myanmar is one of the world’s fastest growing mobile phone markets, it also stands out for its lack of familiarity with cybersecurity. The low level of cybersecurity awareness among internet users makes cybercrime, cyberbullying and online spread of hate speech serious risks for which the country is ill-prepared. It will also impede the development of e-government and e-payment systems in Myanmar.
In a recent interview, U Ye Thura Thet discussed the cybersecurity threats facing Myanmar:
What are the most common cybercrimes in the country?
Fraud. Some people have lost hundreds of thousands of dollars in fraud. The police are well aware of it, but when they go after the offenders, it’s too late. The money is gone. It’s the most common one. Another is sexual threats used to blackmail women.
Where can we report domestic cybercrimes?
That is the main problem. People don’t know where to go or to whom to report these crimes. Police have the CID, BSI and other cybercrime departments. People can report crimes to these departments. For example; fraud is handled by one department and crimes by another.
How can the authorities prevent cybercrimes?
It’s hard to say who is responsible for cybercrimes. I think it’s safe to say everyone’s responsible. For example, if fraud committed using a mobile money app, who will be chased first? We need the support of the service operators. If fraud happens on Facebook, their support is needed to some extent. We need to take responsibility for our own safety. That’s the main purpose of our educational programmes. One person or organisation can’t be held responsible for everyone’s safety – it applies to us all. We need to work together to build a secure community.
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