Cybersecurity ASEAN organizations top concern

Cybersecurity still a distress for ASEAN organizations

There is no denying that cybersecurity in the ASEAN region remains a big problem. Over the last few months, numerous reports by a myriad of cybersecurity vendors continue to point out the weaknesses and reasons why most organizations in this reason still lack adequate cybersecurity.

Yet, how many businesses are actually taking this information seriously? Are board members simply ignorant towards cybersecurity? Or are businesses only looking to improve their cybersecurity upon facing a cyber incident?

According to new research by Palo Alto Networks, cybersecurity has become a top priority at the board level for business leaders in the ASEAN region. The report, titled The State of Cybersecurity in ASEAN, found that this change in priority came about as a result of the disruptions from Covid-19 and that 92% of the respondents believe cybersecurity to be a priority, with 74% of respondents believing their leadership has increased focus on cybersecurity.

Besides that, 68% of respondents have also indicated that they will be increasing their cybersecurity budgets in 2022, driven by the adoption of next-generation security capabilities, the need to address existing cybersecurity gaps, and the need to optimize operations.

ASEAN organizations expect that the one cybersecurity trend to watch out for the most in 2022 is to pay attention to potential cyberattacks that affect personal safety, as digital technologies become more interwoven with work and leisure.  This increasing reliance on the internet, however, has created a number of cyber threats that can cause not only immense harm to individual users but also to government agencies, businesses, and non-profits sectors.

Remote working as a cybersecurity risk in ASEAN 

The report also showed that remote working, something more and more employees are requesting, has brought about new cybersecurity challenges.

For most organizations, the biggest concern about having employees work remotely or with a  hybrid arrangement is the security risks such arrangements bring. Despite innovations in cybersecurity like zero trust and endpoint security, risks are still high for most companies. A whopping 94% of ASEAN organizations had experienced a rise in the number of attacks in 2021.

Some concerning examples of weaknesses include unmonitored or unsecured devices connected to the company network, as well as the increase in digital transactions with suppliers and other third parties. According to Suk Hua Lim, Palo Alto’s country manager for Malaysia, malware attacks remain the most disruptive form of cyberattack and a top concern in the country.

This includes the micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) as well, considering these enterprises are three times as vulnerable to some forms of cyberattack. David Rajoo, Palo Alto’s head of systems engineering in Malaysia, shared that MSMEs can check with local government initiatives, such as the Malaysia Digital Economy Corporation (MDEC), which works with industry partners to increase cybersecurity adoption.

“As for keeping up with the threat landscape, companies have to be diligent in patching systems in place, as well as practicing cyber-hygiene, and maintaining best practices such as identifying and not clicking on suspicious links,” said Rajoo.

This comes as sound advice, considering 74% of APAC organizations still take insider threats lightly, even as they harden their systems against outside threats.

Financial institutions: Prime targets, but best-prepared

Palo Alto’s report also found that amongst the industries surveyed, financial services and fintech companies see themselves as being the most at risk of cyberattacks. However, these two industries also remain the most confident in the cybersecurity measures they have in place to protect themselves from attacks.

According to the report, this confidence might stem from a higher focus on cybersecurity reported by business leaders in financial services and fintech companies. Cybersecurity budgets have also increased the most for organizations in financial services and fintech companies.