Cybersecurity challenges weigh more on Singapore organisations


11 March 2017

Cybersecurity challenges are weighing more on Singapore organisations than many of their counterparts in Southeast Asia.

According to the Intel Security South East Asia Cyber Awareness Study, almost 1 in 2 (or over 47 per cent of) respondents from Singapore felt that managing cybersecurity had become more complex, followed by 44 per cent from the Philippines and 41 per cent from Malaysia. In fact in Singapore, only 20 per cent of respondents believed that it had become less complex.

David Allott, director of Cyber Defense, Asia Pacific, Intel Security, believes this is because with rapid digitalisation, cyber-attacks in the city state are getting more sophisticated by the day. 

“The proliferation of connected devices is opening up new attack surfaces for criminals to exploit,” he said. “To combat such multi-dimensional attacks, enterprises can no longer adopt a simple cybersecurity solution to ensure their security posture. From policy changes to ensuring perimeter and endpoint security, enterprises have to beef up their security from the ground up, making it an integrated and therefore more challenging and complex process.”

In contrast, the study found that countries such as Thailand, Vietnam and Indonesia had the most respondents reporting that managing cybersecurity had become less complex, with 42 per cent for Thailand, 41 per cent for Vietnam and 34 per cent for Indonesia respectively.  One reason for this could be that digitalisation was still in a more nascent stage in most of these countries and hence attack tactics were not as evolved as those faced by Singapore, said Allot.

The study also found varying levels of cyber-preparedness across the region. About 18 per cent of respondents from Singapore and 21 per cent for Philippines believed that their organisations were less prepared to tackle cybersecurity now than they were 12 months earlier, compared with 31 per cent of respondents from Malaysia and 37 per cent from Vietnam.

With the digital economy in Southeast Asia projected to hit US$200 billion by 2025, cybre-preparedness is something that organisations in the region cannot afford to overlook.

“There is plenty of allure for cybercriminals looking for a lucrative payday,” said Allot. “Organisations need to identify the key parts of their business that they need to secure, and work with cybersecurity specialists who provide tailored and holistic solutions that address their needs. “

On the topic of collaboration, the respondents generally agreed that this was key to navigating the complex cybersecurity space. About 46 per cent of all respondents stated that their organisations would be working with more cybersecurity vendors to tackle the challenges that they are facing.

While the emphasis placed on increased collaboration was a step forward, Intel Security also added that a holistic approach towards cybersecurity would have to involve a combination of various technologies, and the education of employees.

“Powerful, emerging technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence can help fight cybercriminals, who also are constantly innovating,” said Allot. “Organisations need to fully utilise these new technologies to augment their existing solutions, and also educate their employees on the best practices to adopt when conducting business in cyberspace. Only through such a concentrated effort can organisations truly be digitally safe.” 

The Intel Security Southeast Asia Cyber Awareness Study gathered opinions from over 2,000 IT professionals across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and the Philippines on the current state of cybersecurity management, their views on working with cybersecurity vendors and their cybersecurity response preparedness levels.