Is Indonesia Ready for New Cyber Agency?
This week, Indonesia’s Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal, and Security Affairs Wiranto reaffirmed that the supporting infrastructure for a much-needed national cyber agency was already existing and that Southeast Asia’s largest state needed to move quickly to establish it.
“So [t]here is already an office, there are the people, there’s the tool[s], we only need to improve it,” Wiranto said at his office on Wednesday according to Tempo. He added that Indonesia would “suffer many losses” if proper steps are not taken nationally and internationally to address the cyber challenge.
Wiranto joins a chorus of voices highlighting both the importance of establishing a new national cyber agency (BSN) to tackle Indonesia’s cyber challenge. Over the past month or so, Indonesia’s home minister, defense minister, police chief, communications minister, and house speaker have all issued statements to the same effect.
Their concerns are not unfounded. As I emphasized previously, Indonesia has long been one of the world’s most vulnerable countries to cyber attacks, and that challenge has grown at an alarming rate over the years (See: “Indonesia’s Cyber Challenge Under Jokowi”). During the past few months, Indonesian officials have been emphasizing the full spectrum of challenges that the country confronts in the cyber realm, not just in terms of national security or e-commerce but also in the distribution of so-called fake news and even e-voting.
But if the case for establishing such a body is clear, the mechanics for implementation have been less so. Indonesian officials have said that they have already taken preliminary steps toward the establishment of a new agency, including conducting research and having meetings between relevant agencies. That said, there have also been outstanding issues, including securing proper funding, personnel and technology, as well as working out how efforts will be coordinated across agencies since Indonesia already has cyber units at the defense ministry, state intelligence agency, and the police (See: “What Will a New Indonesia Cyber Agency Mean?”).
These issues are not insurmountable. Indonesia could appropriate the funds necessary for the creation of the agency later this year, and Wiranto and others have been fairly bullish about an early start date. And Defense Minister Ryamizard Ryacudu disclosed last month that in addition to 50 information technology experts Indonesia has been training that could fill the BSN, it was also looking to train around 50 more to boost resourcing. All this suggests that even as the formal establishment of the new agency has yet to be finalized, the wheels are already turning.
By Prashanth Parameswaran