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Malaysia's AI readiness 2nd in Asean, 23rd globally: Cybersecurity Malaysia

Publish date: Sat, 15 Jun 2024, 07:55 PM

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is second in Asean and 23rd in the world in terms of artificial intelligence (AI) readiness, said CyberSecurity Malaysia, an agency under the Ministry of Digital Malaysia.

CyberSecurity Malaysia, Digital Forensics Department specialist Nazri Ahmad Zamani said Malaysia is ready to attract more technology and AI-related investment which will create more demand for a highly skilled workforce in the future such as data centres.

He said that based on research conducted by Oxford Insights for the year 2023, Malaysia's government AI readiness stood at 79.99 per cent, data infrastructure readiness at 72 per cent, and AI readiness (total score) at 68.71 per cent.

"As Malaysia continues to gear up its initiatives to become the regional hub for cloud computing and related technologies, such as generative AI, the country has cemented its position as second in Asean for AI readiness," he told Bernama in conjunction with the Palo Alto Networks flagship event, Ignite on Tour, here, recently.

According to the research, Malaysia is ahead of other Asean countries except Singapore and has climbed from the 29th spot in 2022 to the 23rd this year with improved marks across all categories.

Nazri said that in light of this, Malaysia has attracted investments such as Google, Microsoft and Amazon Web Services (AWS), proving that Malaysia is on the right track.

Recently, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim said that Malaysia has approved RM114.7 billion worth of investments in data centres and cloud services between 2021 and 2023.

The prime minister said these investments have created 2,325 high-value jobs in specialised fields such as data scientists, data analysts, data engineers, cybersecurity analysts, and network engineers.

Anwar also said the Madani government is committed to positioning Malaysia as a sustainable AI data centre destination in Southeast Asia, as part of its efforts to strengthen the country's position as a leading global investment destination.

Meanwhile, asked about the initiatives to further enhance education on AI, Nazri said that the government's initiative to kickstart the "AI Untuk Rakyat" programme is a stepping stone and more advocacy needs to be done moving forward.

"As we are heading towards an AI future, we need to prepare our next generation on this not just at the tertiary level but also at primary and secondary schools, so that we will have more talent to cater to future demand," he said.

Curb cyber threats with education

In line with the increasing AI advancement, Palo Alto Networks regional vice-president for Asean, Steven Scheurmann said that as AI and digitisation become a must in daily necessities, there has been an increase in cyber threats globally leading to financial losses.

"Phishing and ransomware are becoming a threat by the minute as attacks can now be done by AI bots. They can impersonate others, and create ransomware in minutes compared to weeks before.

"This is a global problem and we need to start educating the public that we need to be less trusting in what we receive online," he said.

Scheurmann also said many elderly people have fallen victim repeatedly as they have a deep trust in everything that is said or shared with them, making them the most vulnerable.

"Thus, we need to continue educating them about the danger of clicking on everything they receive to ensure we do not fall for the trap," he said.

In addition, Scheurmann said that the Cyber Security Bill that the government passed recently is a stepping stone in safeguarding Malaysia's cybersecurity which is rapidly growing.

The Bill was approved by parliament on March 27, 2024, to improve and protect the cybersecurity environment in Malaysia.

It introduces requirements for the designated entities within the National Critical Information Infrastructure (NCII) sectors to comply with the code of practice, specific standards, measures, and processes when handling cybersecurity incidents.

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