The Malaysian Insider


Experts doubtful of 1 Malaysia e-mail security

Apr 20, 2011

Davies said both the hardware and software cost of the project would be prohibitive. — file pic
KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — Computer security experts have questioned the rationale behind the 1 Malaysia e-mail initiative and whether the Najib administration can keep the service secure and affordable.

Open source expert Colin Charles said he did not think it was a good idea for Malaysians to use an e-mail account controlled by the government as there was no guarantee its contents would remain safe.

“The worst that can happen is that someone in the government can read your e-mail,” he told The Malaysian Insider.

“My general advice is: don’t use the e-mail account to write about anything you care about.”

While he thought it an interesting idea, Charles was sceptical of the project’s long-term viability given that Datuk Seri Najib Razak would eventually have to step down as prime minister at some point.

Charles explained the prime minister’s successor would want to stamp his mark politically and was therefore unlikely to continue any of Najib’s 1 Malaysia initiatives, including the e-mail account.

Another expert, Gareth Davies, said it would be costly to provide e-mail accounts for every Malaysian aged 18 and above, estimated to number some 16 million.

“Even if they had 16 million accounts and you give everyone 100 megabytes... that’s a lot of storage,” he pointed out.

“And that’s only 100 megabytes. Imagine if they give one gigabyte,” Gareth said, adding that this was even before the cost of computer architecture, bandwidth, staff, management and software was factored in.

Najib announced yesterday all Malaysians aged 18 and above will be given secure 1 Malaysia e-mail accounts that will allow direct and secure communication between the public and the government.

The account is also part of a new one-stop web portal for government services, which will include social networking features as well as online bill payment and citizen application facilities.

The project is owned and operated by IT company Tricubes Berhad, which will use software from Microsoft — the company that now owns the free Hotmail account service.

The 1 Malaysia email service is part of Najib’s Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) to achieve developed nation status by 2020.

He said today that the RM50 million investment will have a gross national income (GNI) impact of RM39 million up to 2015 and will enhance delivery of public services.