Bandar Seri Begawan - Rising crime related to the Internet, especially involving social media, is a major issue for the IT Protective Security Services (ITPSS), which said it planned to take appropriate measures to ensure the public were safe.
ITPSS CEO Shamsul Bahri Hj Kamis said he was made aware of the growth in Internet-related crime at a national seminar he attended organised by the Authority for Info-communications Technology Industry (AITI) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU).
"It is a serious problem. The statistics mentioned are, so to speak, depressing," Shamsul Bahri said.
"We were made to understand that incidents related to abuse via Internet-related media have been on the rise for the past few years."
He added: "During the seminar, a representative from the Royal Brunei Police Force (RBPF) stated that these cases included sexual grooming, molestation, cyberbullying and even rape. All these sexual crimes on children, according to them, were 100 per cent (instigated through) the Internet, mainly the social media." Several incidents of cyberbullying, through social media, which had materialised into real-life problems, had been reported to the ITPSS.
He said that at the moment parents and schoolchildren, including those in their teens, were the ITPSS' main priority as the most vulnerable groups.
The ITPSS will be carrying out its objectives through the Brunei Computer Emergency Response Team (BruCERT), under the ITPSS, which deals with computer-related and Internet-related security incidents in Brunei.
One of the ways the ITPSS is reaching its target groups is through the publication of two books - Digibytes and A Parent's Guide: Online Safety for Children.
He said the books were aimed at children, students and even adults. He said they were designed to be easily understood and covered topics such as information security and the dangers of the Internet.
He also said the ITPSS would be conducting campaigns to spread awareness about safety throughout this year.
"InsyaAllah, we are going to have more targeted campaigns this year. It will be for the public in general. We do not have a proper schedule yet but we do plan to conduct these campaigns at public venues," he said.
"We will also be conducting these (campaigns) at schools. We have already been invited to various schools this year to give talks, along with practical sessions where our speakers will demonstrate ways individuals can protect themselves online."
A website will also be set up targeting these specific issues, Shamsul Bahri said. "We are attempting to set up a specialist website on information security awareness," he said.
"We do acknowledge that our physical materials (the books) are not widely well-known by the public. This is why we have been planning to set up this website to try and attract people. We want to advertise and promote more awareness, where people can easily gain access to these materials online."
However, these changes will not occur overnight. Shamsul Bahri said the establishment of the website would go through several phases and would include awareness-related games for children, as well as online surveys to see the effectiveness of the ITPSS' upcoming campaigns.
"We want feedback, and even criticism, on how to make our campaigns better. We have done surveys prior to this, but we are always striving for improvement. We have engaged a consultant to assist us with our programmes."
Shamsul Bahri said he was quite impressed with efforts made by several law-enforcement agencies and hoped to emulate their success. "We are quite impressed with what local enforcement agencies have done with their campaigns on school curriculums. We would like to approach them considering how effective their model is."
Shamsul Bahri said he would like to remind the public that predators existed in our society and that they were exploiting Bruneian openness.
"There is a tendency for people to post anything they want online. It is dangerous to reveal personal details - even mentioning that you are alone. People are unaware that posting through a smartphone also reveals their location.
"Through BruCERT and our marketing team, we are trying to inculcate much needed awareness. Some of these perpetrators are exploiting the Malay culture of always giving and always trusting. We are trying to make people aware that it may not always be a good practice. Some things need to be kept private and confidential."
Interested members of the public may obtain copies of Digibytes and A Parent's Guide: Online Safety for Children at ITPSS, which is located at Simpang 69, Jalan E-Kerajaan, Gadong.--Courtesy of The Brunei Times