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Vietnam's Digital Dreams Held Back by Malware Epidemic

2013-12-8
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From VOA Learning English, this is the Technology Report.

Vietnam's information, communications and technology industries have grown quickly over the past 10 years. The Vietnamese government has high hopes for the future, it wants the country to become a center for Information Technology Services in the years to come.

But to capture its share of the knowledge economy, experts say Vietnam will have to do more to deal with cyber security issues.


FILE - Vietnamese people work with computers at a media center in Hanoi.

One major problem is malicious computer software, known as malware. Malware programs are used to damage computer operations, steal information or gain entry to private computer systems.

Michael Mudd is Chair of the Information Technology, Intellectual property and Telecommunications Committee at the American Chamber of Commerce. He says Vietnam is among the top five suppliers of malware and spam messages in the world. He says the country is facing a crisis, mainly because of lack of knowledge about the issue.

"In the countries that have been involved in IT for longer, they are more aware of anti-virus programs. Everywhere I go in Vietnam, I look in places and offices and stuff like this, and hardly any computer, apart from the very big ones, are protected by any anti-virus program at all," he explained.

Wahab Yusoff is an official with McAfee, the computer software company. He says the issue of malware is a very reactive one, you do not do anything until it hits you.

"I think the awareness is increasing, but there's a sense of laissez faire, I'm not being affected, I would be hit by it. But the awareness is increasing. But compared to Singapore, it's a much smaller country and community, I think it's less," said Yusoff.

The use of pirated software is one of the main ways malware can infect computers systems.

The Business Software Alliance says about 81 percent of the computers in Vietnam use pirated copies of software programs. Michael Mudd says infected computers could take up to 20 percent of available bandwidth, causing major economy loses.

To deal with the problem, he says, Vietnam does not need more "antivirus scientists with four-year college degrees." He says the country instead needs an army of IT experts who can care for computer systems and remove malware already loaded in the machines.

Mr Mudd says education about cyber security should start early, even at school age. He says this will help people understand the value of investing in legitimate software and antivirus programs.

And that is the Technology Report from VOA Special English. I'm June Simms.