Tuesday, June 14, 2011

What Would The Malaysian Gov Do After A Cyber Attack?

There is a lot of talk of the upcoming Anonymous attack on Malaysian Government sites. It may or may not happen, but it makes me wonder what will be the followup action by the government?

If memory serves right, this would be the first time the Malaysian Government is faced with a serious cyber threat. Whether they successfully repel the attack depends on their current awareness of the situation. However if we base our opinion on their previous misguided attempt at blocking file sharing sites, we would assume that they will take the most conservative and reactionary approach. 

The first action will be to find out who to blame. The most obvious target will be to blame Anonymous as the culprits. But the idea behind Anon is itself a little hard to grasp for the laymen. 
"Wait, are you telling me a that a bunch of people around the world who don't know each other hacked our government's website because we blocked a few websites in Malaysia which don't effect them in anyway?.... But Why? Did someone pay them? and what are these sites in the first place?"
The average Malaysian wouldn't care or even know what has happened. But they will care when it is portrayed that a group of dissidents have launched a cyber attack on the government due to certain illegal sites being blocked. 

Why dissidents? Because they support piracy and do not care for copyright infringement. 

Why illegal sites? Because they host copyrighted content and result in a significant loss of revenue to the hardworking content creators of Malaysia. 

Now who would push the point home? Celebrities, and Directors will be interviewed to express their outrage behind the lack of support for local content creators. Supporters of file sharing will be labeled as pirates who are out to make a quick buck. 

Unfortunately, the real difference between file sharing and piracy will not be discussed as it would open the topic for debate. By focusing the viewers to a certain point of view, the majority of people will be convinced that the government and local content creators are the victim, and the villains are the group of file sharing supporters. 

The authorities may then continue for some time with a short lived campaign to support local content creators. This may also be accompanied by an increased scrutiny in file sharing sites, but no concrete action will be taken as it is only meant to be a show of action rather than any real commitment. However 2 months down the road the whole issue will be engulfed by the National Day Celebration as well as the upcoming Election Campaign. 

So what happens to the users of file sharing? Durianbot predicts that some sites may stay blocked indefinitely since ISPs can't outright ignore the government decision. The ISP's themselves are not committed in their execution as they realize that high traffic sites like these are the reason people use their services. If you are a heavy social network user, the current trend is to move your social networking experience to your smartphone. Why would the user spend the extra cash for the same experience at their desktop? Therefore a certain portion of users who are forking out for the premium packages are those with an interest in file sharing. 

Alienating their premium users would not be a good business option for ISP's. As such, the current situation where some sites are accessible at various intervals, while others are accessible with their download speed reduced will go on for some time. After a certain period, ISPs will allow access but will threaten to throttle speeds for heavy users. If such a statement is made, it will be made at an obscure press conference or entered in their lengthy End User Licence Agreement. 

So what does matter at the end of the day? The authorities will remain blind to the real reason behind piracy. The users will adapt and new players in the local file sharing scene will emerge as a result of this fallout. However an important lesson will be learnt by 2 different segments of people in Malaysia. 

One, the authorities will realize that the internet is as wild as ever and that they still don't understand what to do with it. 

Two, the people will realize that no matter what is done, they can still trust themselves to pull through and find a way to move on to even greater heights. 

The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion ~ Albert Camus

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