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The Thai Army reportedly plans to recruit civilian “cyber warriors” to help bolster technology systems and capability at its cyber crime security centre.
The UK announced a similar move in 2013, saying it would look to army reservists to become specialists in cyber security by creating a role in countering new technological threats and gathering information
The Thai Army initiative follows a series of cyber attacks targeting government websites by a group protesting against provisions introduced by a recent amendment of the country’s Computer Crime Act.
The Civilians Against Single Gateway Group says the act imposes restrictions that mean that anyone could unknowingly break the law, according to the International Business Times.
For example, the act makes it illegal to possess any data ordered deleted by the government and authorities can demand user data from Thai businesses without court orders or judicial oversight.
Authorities have arrested several suspects believed to be linked to the cyber attacks, but the number of arrests has not been confirmed.
The army has reportedly backed a Facebook page that was created to counter the protest by informing the public about the provisions of the amended Computer Crime Act.
Thai army commander-in-chief Chalermchai Sittisat said the civilians help manage the cyber security centre due to a lack of military personnel with the necessary skills, according to the Bangkok Post.
Campaign knocks government websites offline
In late December 2016, the protest group called on its supporters to join distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks targeting government websites.
The group was formed to protest against a single internet gateway for Thailand that could be monitored easily, but has since broadened its focus to include a variety of freedom of speech issues.
The campaign saw major Thai government websites, including the Thai defence ministry website, temporarily knocked offline.
The army chief reportedly acknowledged the challenges in tracking down hackers because of their extensive global networks, but said the DDoS attacks had not damaged any important databases.
He also dismissed concerns about potential data leaks, saying all applicants will go through rigorous background checks before being appointed.
UK fights cyber crime with volunteers
In 2016, the UK government paved the way for bolstering police capacity to fight cyber crime by approving measures to give powers to volunteers with specialist knowledge.
The National Crime Agency (NCA) also runs a “specials” programme, which draws in volunteers from across industry who want to offer specialist skills to help investigators, including those working in the NCA’s National Cyber Crime Unit.
Most military and law enforcement organisations worldwide are looking for innovative ways of bolstering their cyber capabilities as they typically struggle to compete with private sector salaries.
The challenge is exacerbated by a worldwide shortage of people with the necessary skills to defend against cyber attacks.
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