Strong and swift action is needed to protect corporates from cybercrime

DEEPLY concerned with a recent news report of an alleged case of fake news-cum-criminal intimidation against a Main Market-listed company, Datametrics Research and Information Center Sdn Bhd (DARE) has urged the authorities to take strong and swift action to safeguard the integrity of the capital markets as well as the investment community.

This comes about following a media statement by the board of YNH Property Bhd yesterday (Feb 21) which alleged that members of its board, management team, and shareholders have come under attack through “fake news” or articles that contain defamatory and false representations and statements.

“As a business columnist and as someone who writes about the capital markets with a long history, I follow developments by publicly listed companies closely,” commented DARE’s managing director Pankaj Kumar.

Pankaj Kumar

“I have personally come across some of these articles mentioned by the company. They have also been re-shared among the investment community and have become the talk of the town as messages go viral.”

He added: “Although we are not certain with regard to the veracity of the news portals that published the story nor the accuracy of the reports, the damage has already been done.”

According to Pankaj, companies listed on the Main Market of Bursa Malaysia are often well-regulated with robust checks and balances.

“If there are any issues related to the organisation, there are several legal and proper channels or even to bring the matter to regulators’ attention,” he pointed out. “These range from whistleblowing to the company’s board of directors or audit committee to even filing a report to the Securities Commission Malaysia (SC) or Bursa Malaysia.”

Pankaj went on to argue that the sheer number of negative articles published, coupled with alleged criminal intimidation as reported by the company is reflective of malicious intent and must be investigated and stopped immediately.

“Even if today’s attacks are on one company, what if they goes beyond with these perpetrators targeting other companies in the future? Where does it end?” he asked.

In this regard, DARE highlighted that the proliferation of ‘fake news’ and misinformation is the result of the over-reliance on social media as a primary source of information.

The impact of ‘fake news’ or misinformation can have far-reaching consequences for publicly listed companies as it could potentially impact share price; hurting thousands of investors and shareholders; causing the cost of financing to rise; and hurting a company’s ability to operate or undertake strategic partnerships.

“As YNH Property has made a police report and lodged a complaint with MCMC (Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission), the authorities must now take the bull-by-the-horns to investigate the matter thoroughly,” insisted Pankaj.

“Speed is of the essence as this alleged cybercrime can set dangerous precedents, which can be detrimental to corporate Malaysia at large.” – Feb 22, 2023

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