Leading Boardroom Agenda’s

Kuala Lumpur, March 30:  New research found that business leaders in the ASEAN region are prioritising cybersecurity issues at the board level, as a result of the disruptions brought about by COVID-19. 
Commissioned by Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW), the global cybersecurity leader – The State of Cybersecurity in ASEAN study – surveyed and received responses from 500 respondents representing businesses across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand on their response to the cybersecurity challenges and outlook for the future. 

Cybersecurity becomes a top business priority

Against the pandemic backdrop, cybersecurity has risen to the top of the leadership agenda for many ASEAN businesses — a vast majority (92 per cent) believes cybersecurity to be a priority for their business leaders today. Nearly three in four (74 per cent) also believe their leadership has increased the focus on cybersecurity. 
Leaders are also taking concrete actions to beef up their organisation’s cybersecurity capabilities, as 96 per cent of organisations reported maintaining a dedicated in-house IT team responsible for managing cyber risks. Over two-thirds (68 per cent) reported plans to increase their cybersecurity budgets this year, driven by the adoption of next-generation security capabilities (48 per cent), the need to address existing cybersecurity gaps (46 per cent), and the need to optimise operations (44 per cent).
“The pandemic has served as a catalyst for ASEAN business leaders to sit up and pay greater attention to their cybersecurity defence measures — many are recognising the deep impact it can have on their business continuity,” Palo Alto Networks chief security officer Ian Lim said.
“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.”
“As new and unexpected threats continue to shake up businesses of all sizes and industries, there needs to be closer collaboration between both technology and business leaders to tackle these novel challenges.”

Shift towards remote work brings on new cybersecurity challenges 

With demand for remote access by employees working from anywhere becoming a norm, the infrastructure of many businesses hasn’t been designed to cope. Unsurprisingly, this working arrangement has brought on a new set of cybersecurity challenges.
The survey respondents reported that, amongst others, the most pertinent in Malaysia is the increase in digital transactions with suppliers and other third parties (58 per cent); unmonitored and unsecured IoT devices connected to the corporate network (58 per cent), and the need to procure a wider array of cybersecurity solutions to protect themselves from cyberthreats (55 per cent). 
The majority of ASEAN organisations (94 percent) also experienced a rise in the number of attacks in 2021, with one in five (20 percent) Malaysian organisations experiencing 50 per cent and more increase in disruptive cyberattacks.

Financial institutions prime targets but feel best-prepared against attacks

Amongst all industries surveyed, financial services (45 per cent) and fintechs (42 per cent) notably perceive themselves to be most at risk of cyberattacks. Of note, malware attacks were identified as  a top concern. 
However, these two industries are also most confident of the cybersecurity measures put in place to protect themselves from attacks. This confidence might stem from a higher focus on cybersecurity reported by business leaders in financial services (79 per cent) and fintechs (76 per cent) compared to the average of 74 per cent. Cybersecurity budgets have also increased the most for organisations in financial services (81 per cent) and fintechs (75 per cent), compared to the 68 percent average. 

Evolving cybersecurity strategies for a post-COVID world

As COVID-19 increasingly drives work and leisure activities towards online platforms, ASEAN organisations predict that the one cybersecurity trend we need to pay attention to the most in 2022 will be for cyberattacks to affect our personal safety. This is against the backdrop of Malaysian organisations accelerating the remote workforce (68 per cent), followed by increasing the investment in mobile applications (58 per cent), Cloud adoption (52 per cent), and 5G (39 per cent).
Digital technologies have also become more interwoven into the workplace, due to the disruption of the pandemic. As a result, 9 in 10 (90 per cent) ASEAN organisations are evolving their cybersecurity strategies to stay protected from attacks.  In Malaysia, the adoption of Revamping Threat Detection and Correlation systems (50 per cent) and cloud security (49 per cent) are two important measures to be implemented by organisations, followed by securing IoT /OT (44 per cent), identity and access management (43 per cent) and  Secure Access Service Edge (SASE) strategy (39 per cent).
“In order to effectively partake in Malaysia’s journey of digital transformation, it is imperative for organisations to design and implement an effective and full-proof cybersecurity strategy,” Malaysia Palo Alto Networks country manager Suk Hua Lim said.
“It is inspiring to see that Malaysian organisations have confidence in their cybersecurity measures and that they are highly aware of taking the right decisions in protecting the nation from cyber disruptions.”

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