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Cyber Terrorism as a Global Internet Governance Challenge on ASEAN Regional Stability

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In the era of globalization like today, the development of technology and information is increasingly becoming. Along with the development of increasingly advanced technology, it provides benefits in the form of easy access for the community. However, the convenience and advancement of information technology also has a negative impact, especially in the misuse of technology. One example is the propaganda of terrorism, which is a negative act that can lead to the stability and security of a country, even more broadly on a global scale, to be threatened.

The phenomenon of cyber crime in the international world is currently a serious problem, especially one form of this branch of crime, namely cyber terrorism. Based on the definition of cyber terrorism or cybercrime itself is a term for the use of the internet as a way to commit acts of violence, intimidation, and the spread of ideology for the benefit of certain groups. Some experts in this matter still find it very difficult to distinguish the classification between cyber terrorism and cyber crime, but the term cyber terrorism itself sounds controversial and tends to lead to acts of spreading ideology by terrorist organizations through the internet (Dinniss, 2018).

Cyber Terrorism in ASEAN

Apart from the previous explanation of cyber crime or cyber terrorism, this paper will specifically discuss one particular topic, namely regional cyber terrorism. In this case this paper will specifically discuss cyber terrorism or cyber crime in the Southeast Asia region, which in this case takes a case study in the regional organization of the region, namely the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN) in responding to the phenomenon of cyber terrorism. Regarding the topic raised, namely cyber terrorism, in first topic, it will discuss further the propaganda of terrorist groups on the internet which indirectly threatens the stability of regional security in Southeast Asia.

In connection with acts of terrorism, ASEAN itself has committed to eradicating all forms of terrorism including in this case cyber terrorism which can threaten the sovereignty of the country which was ratified through the ASEAN Convention On Counter Terrorism which as known by ASEAN member countries have agreed to work together to eradicate terrorism in the Southeast Asia region increase prevention and public awareness of the dangers of acts of terrorism, especially through propaganda on the internet (Ryacudu, 2018). An example in this case is ISIS (Islamic State of Iraq and Syria) which uses social media twitter as a means to disseminate their ideologies considering that there are many social media users and this is also used by ISIS for recruiting new members (Misrawi, n.d.). What’s more, the thousands of accounts owned by ISIS are also targeting people in ASEAN where in 2016 a media in Australia reported about a mosque in Jakarta, Indonesia as a place for ISIS propaganda in Southeast Asia (Sari, n.d.).

The Threats on Regional Stability 

Apart from the form or threat in the form of terrorist organization propaganda on the internet, it seems that the phenomenon of cyber crime or cyber terrorism is not limited to this. There are various cyber crimes committed by certain groups, especially those that can threaten the sovereignty of the country. In the case of ASEAN countries themselves, the majority of them have experienced cyber crime attacks. Malaysia, for example, in 2012 experienced a loss of 1.1 million US dollars due to cyber attacks in the country. On the other hand, the Singapore government has also experienced cyber theft cases of 5000 documents from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Singapore, which was then leaked to the public and made the Singapore government face the threat of their sovereignty. Similar to the case in Singapore, Thailand has also experienced cases of cybercrime attacks on government websites, hundreds of malware attacks and phishing incidents that are detrimental and threatening the sovereignty of Thailand. Not forgetting, from previously mentioned, Indonesia, which is the country with the fastest growing internet users in the Southeast Asia region, also experienced the same thing (Manopo & Sari, 2015).

One of Indonesia’s major cyber attacks was the WannaCry ransomware attack in May 2017.The attack took the form of a ransom demand which attacked more than 100,000 computers in 150 countries. Besides that, in 2009 Indonesia also experienced an espionage attack from Australia which spied on the cell phone of the then president of Indonesia Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. Judging from the previous case, of course this must be the cornerstone of ASEAN. Given that cyber crime or cyber terrorism is a transnational crime, the prevention must be done through cooperation. It is also undeniable that cyber laws in each country are also different, making cyber cooperation, especially in ASEAN, must be tightened (Chairil, n.d.).

What ASEAN Has Done?  

As previously known, there are so many cases of terrorism and cyber crime in Southeast Asia. These various crimes seem to have become a long history in their own right in the Southeast Asia region and become quite a homework assignment for ASEAN to tackle these transnational crimes. In this case, ASEAN as a Southeast Asian regional organization has also made efforts to prevent this by holding meetings between ASEAN member countries. These meetings are realized through the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC), ASEAN Regional Forum (ARF), ASEAN Defense Ministers Meeting (ADMM), etc (Qalbi et al., 2020).

Furthermore, in one of the meetings, namely the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) which is held every two years, it discusses terrorism, illegal drug trafficking, human trafficking, money laundering, and cyber crime, which is the topic of discussion. major in this paper. The program to address these issues is contained in the SOMTC Work Program to Implement the ASEAN Plan of Action to Combat Transnational Crime which is issued periodically every three years. In addition, ASEAN is also actively cooperating with ASEAN Dialogue Partners in efforts to eradicate transnational crime. This cooperation is contained in various joint declarations, memoranda of understanding (MoU), plans of action (PoA), and work plans that cover various cooperative initiatives and projects (ASEAN, n.d.).

Future Challenges of Cyber Security in ASEAN

Responding to the actions of cyber terrorists or cyber crime previously, in this case, according to INTERPOL’s ASEAN Cyber Threat Assessment 2021, it describes a trend that will exponentially emerge as a threat to regional stability in the Southeast Asia region. The report describes the important cooperation between the private sector, legal entities and intelligence agencies which is directly facilitated by INTERPOL.

The efforts made by INTERPOL’s ASEAN Cyber Crime Operations Desk (ASEAN Desk) which has received support from legal entities and private sector partners INTERPOL indicate that the threat of cyber crime in the Southeast Asia region includes the following matters. The business email compromise campaign costs the nation so much finances that it can lead to a financial deficit. Cyber Scams, Cyber criminals use false information, for example related to COVID-19 in global communications to deceive their victims. On the other hand, Ransomware which is a cyber crime that uses public facilities such as hospitals, state institutions to carry out ransomware attacks is increasing rapidly. In this case they believe that in this way they can weaken the security stability in a country with a medical crisis during a pandemic. And what is no less important is the black propaganda of terrorism groups that seeks to recruit new members through their ideologies that are disseminated through the internet which of course can threaten regional security stability and state sovereignty, and there are many more cases of cyber crime threats that are similar to the ASEAN region (INTERPOL Report Charts Top Cyberthreats in Southeast Asia, n.d.).


It can be concluded from some of the topics previously mentioned that in this globalization era, threats to security are no longer limited to physical or traditional attacks but are broader than that. The threat is none other than non-traditional in which the threat can take various forms, one of which is a threat to technology and information. Along with the development, the ease of access to technology has also made crimes increase and even threatens the security of the country, namely cyber crime or cyber terrorism. Cyber ​​crime or cyber terrorism can take various forms, such as terrorist group propaganda, cyber scams, espionage, phishing, etc.

In this case, ASEAN as a regional organization also does not escape from these threats. They have made efforts in overcoming these cyber crime cases, one of which is by realizing the ASEAN Ministerial Meeting on Transnational Crime (AMMTC) which is held every two years and specifically to discuss transnational crimes including cyber crimes. Even so, cyber crimes in the Southeast Asia region can still be said to be quite a lot and in this case ASEAN must be more serious in dealing with it further. At the same time, cooperation between ASEAN member countries also needs to be increased to avoid non-traditional threats such as cyber crime in order to create a complete regional security stability.