New Book to Help Cambodia Navigate Cyberspace

Three Cambodian tech experts have penned a book that explores the nation’s current cyberspace landscape and advocates for enhanced cybersecurity as more of the population share data online.
Cambodia in Cyberspace book. Kiripost/supplied
Cambodia in Cyberspace book. Kiripost/supplied

Three Cambodian tech and research experts explore “the current landscape of cyberspace” in a new anthology, Cambodia in Cyberspace, as the country embraces digital transformation and cyberspace integration.

According to the book, “The challenge of the emerging cyberspace is not purely technical, but cut across economic, social, cultural, political, and philosophical principles.” Pushed by digital development and the internet, Cambodia’s young and tech-savvy population has jumped into cyberspace without much preparation.

With a median age of 26, high smartphone penetration, and access to affordable mobile data, Cambodia boasts a high digital adoption rate and tech-savvy population.

Co-author Chhem Siriwat told Kiripost,

“The kingdom has rapidly adopted the use of several key applications of digital technology just in the last few years: mobile payments, e-commerce, ride-sharing, food delivery, and more. As such, an increasing proportion of the population is integrating their personal data into cyberspace via the numerous digital platforms and applications that citizens are using everyday.”

A director of the Centre for Inclusive Digital Economy (CIDE) of Asian Vision Institute (AVI), the author argues, “Although these technological innovations have resulted in more convenience, productivity, and efficiency for Cambodians, they have also created new risks in terms of cybersecurity and privacy.”

As cyberspace, cybersecurity, and cyberconflict have become hot topics in Cambodia, companies and organizations understand the importance of securing data, as well as critical information infrastructure at the national level, in order to support the Cambodian economy and society, the author explained when asked about Cambodia’s present situation.

“Several laws are currently being drafted relevant to the digital economy, cybersecurity, and personal data protection and privacy. In addition, many educational institutions in Cambodia are beginning to emphasize more on IT-related programs and specializations.”

The CIDE director concluded,

“In the big picture, Cambodia seems to be pushing on all sides relevant to the digital economy and cyberspace, from the private sector, public sector, and academia. No single individual, company, organization, or country will ever be 100 percent secure, but raising awareness and preparing accordingly will make monumental differences.”

In 2019, Siriwat, who specializes in Artificial Intelligence (AI), wrote “Cyberconflict: How Should Cambodia Prepare?” In it, he examines “the past, present, and future of cyberconflict for Cambodia and on the global scale”.

In the paper for the AVI thinktank, he stressed, “It is of paramount importance for Cambodia to strategise and assemble a national team of experts to prepare for cyberconflict in the future, in line with the rapid growth of its digital economy.”

The author holds a Master’s degree in Digital Technology Management from Bologna Business School at the University of Bologna in Italy.

The other co-authors of the Cambodia in Cyberspace book, which will be available on sale in September, are Ou Phannarith, a cybersecurity expert, and Chea Vatana, Director of Research at CamTech University.

An expert in cybersecurity, Phannarith is also a Director of ICT Security Ministry of Post and Telecommunications. He has advocated for strong online security through talks and his Security Academy, which launched in 2013.

“Cyberspace in Cambodia is not very safe based on the perspectives of our young people,” according to a 2021 report on developing Cambodia's digital economy: youth's perspective, presented at the National Bank of Cambodia Macroeconomic Conference.

It added, “It is beneficial for Cambodia to transform itself into a digital economy, and around 85 percent indicated that they will use more digital platforms, goods and services in the future, signaling a tremendous potential for developing Cambodia’s digital economy.”

Internet use in Cambodia in 2022

Cambodia’s internet penetration rate stood at 78.8 percent of the total population at the start of 2022. “There were 13.44 million internet users in Cambodia in January 2022,” stated DataReportal, which sources directly from third parties.