Afterword

ThimphuTech was the first technology blog in Bhutan. We started writing it in 2009, just as broadband and mobile internet started to take off. (Although internet in Bhutan was launched in 1999, it was either super-slow or super-expensive, and was only used by a selected few).

In the blog, we wrote about technology and food, but also about plenty of other stuff. The blog became popular and influential in Bhutan. A companion bi-weekly column -- Ask Boaz -- was published for many years in the Kuensel, Bhutan's national newspaper. (The complete Kuensel columns are available as an ebook, Blogging with Dragons).

We stopped updating the blog when we left Bhutan in 2014, but the information within the posts can still prove useful, and thus we decided to keep it online.

We thank all our readers.
Tashi Delek,
Boaz & Galit.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Getting Hacked (K2 #86)

Question of the Week
Why are so many Bhutanese websites being hacked?
— Chimmi P., Mothithang

Answer
Dear Chimmi,

In the last few years, it seems that almost every website in Bhutan underwent surgery by knives of hackers. From RGoB’s main portal (www.bhutan.gov.bt) to BOB, T-Bank, BICMA, RCSC, DPT, Royal Bhutan Police, DrukNet, tour operators, schools... you name it! Now for the news - good and bad.

The good news: The attacks are often simple ones, and the hackers – perhaps bored teenagers sitting in an internet cafe in Tehran or Istanbul – are not professionals. They usually take advantage of well-known software vulnerabilities in the server. In fact, it’s easy to avoid these simple attacks; one only needs to make sure the server software is up to date (much like the Windows Update feature on personal computers). Many webmasters in Bhutan, however, don’t bother to update the server software, and so suddenly the websites display a cryptic message in Arabic (often bundled with an oriental tune).

The bad news: Given the abysmal state of internet security in the country, combined with the fact that more and more sensitive systems and databases are now online, it is difficult to overestimate the amount of damage that can be caused by malicious, professional hackers. The results can be disastrous. Bhutan must start taking cyber security seriously.

“There are no jobs for IT graduates” has become a common mantra these days, and fewer class XII pass outs are choosing the IT route. The fact is, however, that there are jobs – both in Bhutan’s private sector and abroad – for good computer programmers. The problem is not the jobs – it’s the type and quality of the degrees. I recently met a Bhutanese employer in Bhutan who is looking for skilled programmers, but was not able find a single one although he interviewed hundreds of IT graduates, many of whom are decorated with Bachelor in Computer Application (BCA) degrees. I have had similar experiences. There is a limited market for excellent BCA graduates, but a much larger demand for rigorous B.Tech or Computer Science graduates from reputable universities. The end result: while there are jobs for skilled software engineers and coders (as programmers are often known), the current state is that most of the IT graduates are unemployable.

Readers are encouraged to submit technology-related questions to boaz@thimphutech.com