Never Assume

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By Wong Joon Hoong

In the last two years, the COVID-19 pandemic has served as a major catalyst for businesses to transform digitally, greatly accelerating Malaysia’s digital economy. However, this has also resulted in an increase in targeted cyberattacks and cybercrimes on organisations. Malaysia’s Ministry of Home Affairs revealed in 2021 that more than 20,000 cybercrime cases were reported, totalling losses of RM560 million to the victims
Despite the rising ransomware incidences, impact and cost, according to the third edition of Sophos’ annual survey report, The Future of Cybersecurity in the Asia Pacific and Japan, there continues to be a lack of boardroom awareness of cybersecurity and a broad assumption from executives that their company will never get attacked.

Cybersecurity education is needed at the top

At Sophos, we have seen cybersecurity expenditure and self-assessed maturity increase across the region. Yet, the report still finds that in Malaysia only 29 per cent of companies surveyed believe their board understands cybersecurity very well. Furthermore, the top frustration expressed by local cybersecurity professionals is that they can’t keep up with the pace of security threats, which grow more complex and harder to prevent.
Ninety-three per cent of surveyed companies agree that their biggest security challenge in the next several years will be the awareness and education of employees and leadership.
As this is the case, if businesses continue to place digitalisation at the forefront of their strategies, executives must pay heed to the importance of cybersecurity. Failure to do so will prove costly on numerous fronts including the theft of sensitive data, disruption to business operations and loss of business revenue and critical damage to reputation. 

Malaysia’s skills shortage continues to wreak havoc

The shortage of mismatch of cybersecurity skills continues to be a growing problem that needs to be addressed in Malaysia. Seventy per cent of companies surveyed expect to have some problems with recruiting cybersecurity employees over the coming years, with 26 per cent expecting to face a major challenge.
With recruiting continuing to pose issues, companies have identified the priority areas they feel skills and capabilities need to be increased for internal security specialists. These include staying up to date with the latest threats, policy compliance and reporting and employee and executive training. 

Cybersecurity professionals’ top frustrations

Indeed, cybersecurity professionals have an enormous task ahead to keep companies safe and secure. With concerns around the ability to keep up with the pace of evolving security threats, and not having enough skilled cybersecurity specialists to combat these threats, the real challenge comes from low levels of cybersecurity understanding among company boards. 
This low awareness may lead to fewer funds being invested in necessary programs to alleviate the risks. The issue isn’t technology, it is education.

Cybersecurity education can help you stay on top of ransomware 

Often company boards and executives do not understand how cyber issues can affect the bottom line. At present, cybersecurity education must become a focus for all. Until these issues are addressed by company leaders, Malaysian businesses will continue to fall victim to cybercrime leading to loss of revenue, data and reputation. By educating employees and management about the risks and what they can do to mitigate them, together we can put up a good fight against cybercrime. 

About the author: Wong Joon Hoong (pictured above) is the Country Manager for Sophos Malaysia. This is an opinion column. The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of this publication.

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