Vietnam gov't websites at risk of being hacked: conference

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Most Vietnamese government websites are currently at a high risk of being attacked by hackers because their administrators lack awareness of security measures, according to speakers at a conference in Hanoi Friday.

A recent study released at the conference by the Vietnam Information Security Association (VNISA) found that 78 out of 100 websites evaluated had "critical" defects in their security systems.

Nearly 80 percent of the websites could have their contents changed or destroyed by hackers "at any time," VNISA said in the survey.

"State agencies are facing the problems of information leaking from their own networks," Vu Quoc Thanh, vice chairman of VNISA, told the conference held by the Hanoi Department of Science and Technology.

In the meantime, large amounts of malicious software designed to attack specific targets, including government websites have been found in Vietnam this year, the Vietnam Computer Emergency Response Team (VNCERT) reported at the conference.

A representative of Vietnam's leading Internet security firm Bkav said that computer systems at many state agencies and businesses were infected with spyware hidden in files that had often been sent in emails.

After penetrating the systems, the spyware allows hackers to control infected computers from afar and steal their data, the representative said, adding that the files were often attached to emails related to work. 

"This is an alarming situation for Internet security in Vietnam, especially state agencies and businesses," said Vu Ngoc Son, director of Bkav's research division.

On the other hand, the awareness of security measures among Vietnamese businesses and organization was still poor.

A VNCERT representative said the organization frequently issued warnings to organizations with defective websites but the administrators of those websites never changed anything.

"It was probably because the organizations used unregistered software or lacked experts and rules," the representative said.

Experts also said habits like the use of free or dubious software downloaded from the Internet, and the use of computers for multiple purposes, needed to stop.

Huy also said that state employees often employ weak passwords that are easy for hackers to break.

If proper security measures aren't taken now, the damages caused by the loss of national secrets would be impossible to calculate, said Thanh with VNISA.

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According to Thanh, the biggest problem that needs to be addressed is human resources.

Although in 2010, the government approved a national digital information security project that included the training of 1,000 international level-experts in the field, Thanh said not enough had been done.

In June last year some 200 Vietnamese websites, 10 percent of which were government websites, were attacked. Several internet security agencies then claimed the hacks came from computers with Chinese IPs.

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