TOP | 2015 | Weekly Column | Highlight Progress of Cyber Security Development

Highlight Progress of Cyber Security Development in Laos by Ministry of Post and Telecommunication
Lao National Internet Center (LANIC),
Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT)
Director of Division, Planning and Cooperation Division
Ms. Phavanhna Douangboupha
Laos is a small landlocked country with a vision to transform our country to become a land-linked country. Laos has the population of about 6.8 millions, the area of about 236,800 KM2. In 2015, Laos has four mobile operators, six Internet Service Providers (ISPs), about 499 ICT providers, and about 164 Internet Cafe. The fixed and mobile telephone penetration reached about 85% of the total population. Internet penetration rate is about 21% of the population. About 30% of mobile subscribers are using data services via 3G and 4G mobile Internet. Estimate International Internet bandwidth is about 25 Gbps with growth of 30% year over year. Major ISPs started to provide Fiber to the home (FTTH) services in Vientiane Capital. The first Lao satellite is set for launching in late November 2015 to mark the 40th anniversary of the founding of the Lao PDR on December 2nd.

The price of mobile phone, especially smart phone, is getting cheaper and there are more selections for buyers. More and more people make the use of Internet and Social Media for marketing, providing services, and for information sharing.

To become a land-linked country and to effectively integrate regionally, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) task is to enable ICT as tools for country development. MPT envisions ICT to provide platforms to facilitate access to information, to enable knowledge exchange, to allow people to connect, and to be a hub of the region for a greater connection. In the field of Cyber Security, Ministry of Post and Telecommunications (MPT) has been working on various areas from setting up a team, ensuring legal framework, building up infrastructure, strengthening cooperation, and raising people awareness.

1. LaoCERT or Lao Computer Emergency Response Team was established since year 2012, where LaoCERT is currently under Lao National Internet Center (LANIC).

2. For legal framework, MPT has been actively rolling out quite a few related documents or regulations. In 2014, Laos released the Decree on Information Management on the Internet. Just recently, our National Assembly passed the Law on Cyber Crime. In addition, MPT is working to pass the Law on Information and Communication Technology (ICT). The next National ICT Development Strategy (2016-2025), National ICT Master plan (2016-2020), National Broadband policy, National ICT policy and National Information Security policy are also being drafted.

3. For the infrastructure, despite the fact that our government has limited budget. Still, LaoCERT equips with basic required equipment to prepare for an incident response and incident communication with its partners.

4. As we live in the interconnected world and as ICT is continue to develop rapidly, MPT believes strengthening cooperation is one of the key areas. We have close relationship with ISPs and telecom operators. We do communicate with them and seek their opinions on our development plan. We strengthen our cooperation with various organizations such as ITU (the International Telecommunication Union), UN-ESCAP/APCICT (United Nations Asian and Pacific Training Centre for Information and Communication Technology for Development), APNIC (Asia Pacific Network Information Centre), Computer Emergency Response Teams in the region, ASEAN, ASEAN partners, and our neighboring countries such as China, Vietnam, Cambodia, and Thailand. Laos is also looking to connect our national transmission network to Myanmar.

5. Specifically for the cyber threats affecting in Laos for the past, we have experienced similar kind of cyber-incidents just like other countries in the region and around the world. The incidents include malicious software, phishing scams, e-mail account hacking and misused of information. To promote the safe and responsible use of the Internet, MPT works closely with stakeholders to reach out to community through various means. Such examples include the work with the Lao Revolutionary Youth Union (LPRYU) to raise high school and universities students’ awareness on the social media best practice. MPT actively provides related ICT and security trainings for government officials and related stakeholders with cooperation under the program of ASEAN-Japan Information Security Awareness, ITU, UN-ESCAP/APCICT, APNIC, and fellow CERTs in the region. MPT recently released our very first trimonthly ICT magazine, which is known as Lao ICT magazine. Information Security is one of the main content of the magazine.

With many efforts, we still face challenges. Some of the challenges include the Internet speed and coverage; digital divide; on going changes and updates with limited budget; lack of local contents and information; lack of human resources; and people awareness. Therefore, MPT will continue to work with our partners and stakeholders on those areas to overcome the obstacles together for best outcomes.