While the internet exposes children to a world beyond their normal reach, helping them develop their minds and imaginations, it also has its drawbacks due to the adult content that is also available.

Nevertheless, CyberSecurity Malaysia, a body under the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia Malaysia, has consistently promoted the building of a safe internet environment for children.

$!Dato’ TS Dr Haji Amirudin Abdul Wahab, CEO of CyberSecurity Malaysia

Its CEO, Datuk Dr Amirudin Abdul Wahab, said since 2010, CyberSecurity Malaysia in collaboration with the various agencies such as the Internet Society Malaysia, National Council of Women’s Organisations of Malaysia, Digi Telecommunications, Google, Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation, and Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission, among others, ministries, and NGOs, have celebrated Safer Internet Day Malaysia Edition.

“Programmes and activities have been organised by CyberSecurity Malaysia together with these strategic partners who embrace the cybersecurity and internet safety agenda in Malaysia,” he told theSun.

One of the programmes, known as the National ICT Security Discourse -- CyberSAFE Challenge Trophy or NICTSeD for short is Malaysia’s first national cybersecurity school discourse initiated and organised annually by CyberSecurity Malaysia, in collaboration with the Ministry of Education Malaysia (MOE).

Since its inception in 2013, Amirudin said the programme had successfully achieved its goal as a method to disseminate knowledge on cyber security in ways that are interesting for students and teachers.

“The main objective of this programme is to encourage the creative and critical thinking of participants as they discuss today’s global internet and technological issues and identify ways to mitigate online risk and challenges. And in the process, teachers and students become smart and ethical Internet users.

“The National Cyber Ethics Initiatives (NCEI) is another programme that is developed as a coordinated effort to promote an appropriate and responsible use of technology to develop self-monitoring habits that sustain and improve digital communities.

“The National Cyber Security Awareness Module (MKKSN) is a learning and teaching initiative on cybersecurity that has been developed jointly by the Educational Resource and Technology Division (BSTP), MOE and CyberSecurity Malaysia.,” Amirudin said.

He said it is based on a study known as the National Cyber Security Awareness Baseline Studies, conducted by CyberSecurity Malaysia in collaboration with MOE to identify the level of cyber safety awareness among primary and secondary school students throughout Malaysia.

$!– Pix for representational purpose only.

Additionally, Amirudin said CyberSecurity Malaysia also conducts awareness talks known as Cyber Security Awareness Talk (CSAT) to various age groups and demographics, such as school children, college and university students and the private and government sector.

“These awareness talks are conducted nationwide and include Sabah, Sarawak and the Federal Territory of Labuan. Application for talks can be made through CSAT’s online reservation platform at https://speaker.cybersafe.my.

“In addition, there is also the collaboration with local media through public service announcements aimed at delivering positive messages on cyber security and the general well-being of the internet.

“As of December 2021, more than 30 cyber security messages were published daily. They covered issues such as scams, cyber-parenting tips, fake news, cyber sexual grooming, cyber-stalking, cyberbullying as well as several videos implemented in collaboration with CyberSAFE strategic partners on adolescents and children in cyberspace,” he said.

Amirudin said the initiatives have been able to help disseminate information to society and help the public understand the importance and deliver messages regarding current cybersecurity issues, apart from sharing best practices on computer and internet ethics, especially with identified target groups.

“There was also an increase in the number of requests for CyberSecurity Malaysia to conduct cybersecurity awareness talks around Malaysia every year. The demand to develop activities and programmes has led to increased understanding in various sectors of cyber security. This has helped reduce the risk of becoming victims of cybercrime,” he said.

$!Cybersecurity for Kids: It’s Never Too Early To Begin

Furthermore, Amirudin said the National Baseline Study on the level of Cyber Security Awareness Among School Children and Parents 2021/2022 was another project conducted by CyberSecurity Malaysia under the 12th Malaysia Plan.

The study was meant to identify school children’s level of awareness of cybersecurity components such as cyberbullying, identity theft and hacking, and analyse the level of awareness and control measures put in place by parents regarding cyber security threats. It also provided correlational analyses between cyber awareness and cyberattacks.

“This study covers the technological aspects of cybersecurity and Internet use involving school students. A total of 16,908 respondents comprising 13,953 school children, including special education students, and 2,955 parents, participated in the study from November 16 to December 3 last year.

“Before the study commenced, several briefing sessions were conducted with schoolteachers throughout the country, involving the purpose and procedures of the study. All school students who participated have accessed the online survey questions provided via the Ministry of Education’s DELIMa digital learning platform,” Amirudin said.

Moreover, he stressed that the initiatives were extremely important as children are particularly at risk because they often use the computer unsupervised, and are more likely than toddlers to participate in online discussions regarding companionship, relationships, or sexual activity.

$!– Pix for representational purpose only.

“We want children to understand that their behaviour and actions online will also impact them as well as their friends and families offline. Therefore, they must learn to be responsible and ethical when going online to avoid being harmed or causing harm to others. Effective cyber parenting will assist children to grow up as good netizens,” he said.

As for plans to further enhance cybersecurity for minors, Amirudin said the Cyber Parenting Modules and Early Childhood Development for Preschoolers Module are to be taken as a prerequisite for owners and educational practitioners before opening kindergarten institutions.

“Cyber Security Awareness for Educators is a two-day, hands-on training and certification programme that provides the essential know-how that focuses on the human aspect of cyber security, enabling educators to develop and implement an effective security awareness programme for their students.

“Additionally, there will be follow-ups on the Anti-Cyberbullying Act as it is just as important as the reports which have been made by victims. It addresses what necessary counselling or rehabilitation measures have been made for the perpetrator,” he said.

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