The recent rise in the number of large-scale cyber-attacks shows that no organization that collects and processes personal data is immune from data security risks. Asia has always been a bit behind other countries when it comes to cyber security, mostly because they were not targeted as much as other countries. However, there is a growing concern about cyber security in the region.
Asia´s rising importance to the world´s economy, together with Asia-Pacific countries´ military and political interest has highly influenced the rise in cyber-security efforts. With the increase of industry digitalization in the region, the risk of cyber-attacks in Asia-Pacific countries is constantly increasing.
According to a research done by the National Institute of Information and Communication Technology (NICT), the number of cyber-attacks on government and business organizations in 2015. has doubled when compared to the previous year. Countries in the region are going through tough times when it comes to cyber security – even the official website of Singapore´s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong was the target of a cyber-attack.
Managing Director of Enterprise Data and Managed Services at Singtel, William Woo stated that the report emphasizes the frequency and increased sophistication of cyber-attacks against all types of businesses in the ASEAN region. He added: “The risk of cyber-attacks, faced by companies in the region, is considerably higher than the global average“.
As a response to the increasing threat to cyber-attacks, Singapore, Malaysia, South Korea, Taiwan and the Philippines have taken considerable security measures in terms of cyber security. Still, even with these new measures taking place, it will take some time before they can make a positive effect on the rising number of cyber-attacks. In its annual survey, Ernst & Young reported that almost 75% of companies in Singapore are not equipped to handle sophisticated cyber-attacks. While most of these companies do not have a dedicated security center that would manage cyber security, most of the respondents said that the main risk comes from employees that are unaware of the consequences of their actions in the cyber space.
Although the numbers look bad, the real situation is probably much worse. Many countries in the ASEAN region still have the tendency to deal with these issues behind closed doors, meaning that only the aftermath of most significant data breaches sees the light of day.
Creation of ASEAN Economic Community in September 2015, which we attended alongside Microsoft, GAC Ventures and NetAssist, is certainly a step in right direction as a number of international and regional organizations are starting to work together on cybersecurity issues. Nonetheless, companies in Asia are still far from being immune to cyber-attacks as traditional measures are no more efficient in protecting their critical business assets. While ASEAN ambitions to collectively tackle cybersecurity challenges will certainly bring short-term benefits, we are certain that the companies in the region will need to find new and innovative countermeasures to protect themselves from the growing number of cyber threats.