Cybersecurity is on the agenda in boardrooms across Asean, where business leaders discuss plans to plug existing gaps and adopt next-generation capabilities. This focus is necessary as 94% of organisations in the region report a climb in cyberattacks last year, with 24% seeing at least 50% increase in disruptive attacks.
The majority, topping 92%, believe cybersecurity was a priority for their business leaders today amidst the ongoing global pandemic, according to a survey by Palo Alto Networks.
Conducted in November 2021, the online study polled 500 respondents across five Asean markets, comprising 100 each from Singapore, Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, and the Philippines. The IT decision makers and business leaders were from five verticals: financial services, government, retail, telecommunications, and fintech.
Caught by the sudden onslaught of COVID-19, most businesses lacked or had inadequate security systems in place to support remote work and now have to deal with a new reality that includes a much wider attack surface and less secured user devices.
Some 74% pointed to an increase in focus on cybersecurity within their leadership team, with 46% discussing such issues at the board level every quarter and another 38% doing so every month.
With the heightened focus, 68% revealed plans to boost their cybersecurity budgets this year. Some 48% said this was fuelled by the adoption of next-generation security technologies, while 46% pointed to the need to plug existing cybersecurity gaps. Another 44% cited the aim to optimise operations.
In particular, hybrid and remote work arrangements had underscored emphasis on personal safety, as 57% of Asean organisations looked to expand their remote workforce and another 57% would widen their network of smart devices. Some 58% also were increasing their investment in mobile apps, as businesses looked to drive their digital transformation, the Palo Alto report noted.
Such initiatives had pushed 90% of respondents to evolve their cybersecurity strategy to remain secured. Specifically, 54% pointed to cloud security as the top security measure post-pandemic. Another 46% deployed Internet of Things (IoT) as well as operational technology (OT) security measures, while 45% focused on access management.
Furthermore, with 54% reporting a climb in digital transactions with suppliers and third-party providers, 54% cited the need to adopt cybersecurity products and services to safeguard against cyber threats. Another 51% underscored the importance of protecting themselves against unmonitored and unsecured IoT devices connected to the corporate network.
Across the region, 45% from the financial services sector and 42% from fintechs saw themselves as most at risk of cyber attacks, with malware attacks topping their concerns. These two market segments, though, were most confident of cybersecurity measures they had put in place to safeguard against attacks.
Some 79% from financial services and 76% of fintechs reported a strong focus on cybersecurity amongst their business leaders, slightly above the regional average of 74%.
In addition, 81% of financial services companies and 75% of fintechs reported an increase in their cybersecurity budgets, compared to the regional average of 68%.
Almost all respondents across the board, at 96%, had a dedicated in-house IT team for managing cyber risks.
Palo Alto Networks’ field chief security officer Ian Lim said: “The pandemic has served as a catalyst for Asean business leaders to sit up and pay greater attention to their cybersecurity defence measures, [with] many recognising the deep impact it can have on their business continuity. To manage today’s remote workforce in a digital-first environment, cybersecurity must be integrated horizontally across all facets of the business and considered as part of every corporate action.”
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