News In Brief

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Welcome to our ‘News In Brief’ column in which we digest all the news releases for you in no more than five paragraphs. Below are snippets of all the media releases we received from May 8 till the end of the week. This column updates regularly throughout the week.

Cyber Defenses Impact Insurance

Kuala Lumpur, May 8: Sophos, a cybersecurity services provider, has released a report titled “The Critical Role of Frontline Cyber Defenses in Insurance Adoption.”
The report details how the strength of a company’s cybersecurity defences affects their insurability, premium costs and policy terms.
The report states that 95 per cent of organisations that purchased a cyber insurance policy last year experienced a direct impact.
Of these, 60 per cent said that it affected their ability to obtain coverage, while 62 per cent said it impacted the cost of their coverage, and 28 per cent said it impacted the terms of their policy.
The report found that cyber insurance adoption is now the norm with 91 per cent of organisations reporting having coverage, with an additional eight percent reporting that they do not currently have coverage but plan to obtain it in the next year.

Malaysia’s Growing Online Recruitment

Kuala Lumpur, May 8: According to the foundit Insights Tracker (fit) for Malaysia, e-recruitment in the country has grown by 13 per cent over the past six months.
The index rose to 78 in March 2023, showing a YoY increase of 2.6 per cent.
The labour market has gradually improved, with a month-over-month increase of three per cent.
The job market in Malaysia has shown consistent growth over the past year, reflecting a positive shift in the labour market.
Companies are still seeking new talent, particularly those with specialized, high-demand skills.
In terms of industry trends, the hospitality sector saw a YoY increase in hiring demand of 59 per cent. The retail and BFSI industries also saw an increase, with 26 per cent and 17 per cent YoY growth, respectively. However, the IT, Telecom/ISP, and BPO/ITES industries recorded a consecutive drop in hiring activity, with a YoY decrease of 24 per cent. The Logistics, Courier/Freight/Transportation, and Shipping/Marine industries also experienced a significant setback in hiring demand, with a YoY decrease of 21 per cent.
In terms of functional roles, Hospitality & Travel saw the most significant demand in March 2023, with a growth of 210 per cent YoY, followed by Sales & Business Development with a consecutive uptick in hiring demand of 15% per cent YoY. The Finance & Accounts function also saw an increase in risk management and compliance roles, with a growth of 13 per cent YoY. However, the pace of growth moderated further for Customer Service roles, which registered a double-digit decline of 51 per cent YoY.
The foundit Insights Tracker is a comprehensive monthly analysis of online job posting activity conducted by foundit. Based on a real-time review of millions of employer job opportunities, the FIT presents a snapshot of employer online recruitment activity nationwide. The period considered for the foundit Insights Tracker (fit) data is from March 2022 to March 2023.

QuickBooks Offers Free Access

Sydney, May 9: Intuit QuickBooks is providing free access to QuickBooks Online Accountant (QBOA) globally, allowing accounting professionals in 170 countries to move to the cloud faster and bring more value to their clients and the economy.
QBOA helps manage practice workflow, client interactions, and billing all in one place, enabling accountants to be more efficient and scalable.
With real-time insights, accountants can make informed business decisions that can positively impact small business survival rates. Intuit serves over 100 million customers worldwide, making it the first provider to deliver at this scale for the accounting profession.
Accountants are key to fueling local business and economic prosperity, as Malaysia will need 60,000 qualified professional accountants by 2030, with just over 37,000 members registered with the Malaysian Institute of Accountants (MIA) today.
QuickBooks Online Accountant benefits professional accountants worldwide through automated transactions, workflows, integrated apps, and AI-based income tax/VAT estimation, among others. Assisted onboarding for accountant professionals and bookkeepers is free and focused on new and existing clients new to QuickBooks.
To celebrate the launch of QBOA global edition, limited time only pricing bundles have been announced. The one-dollar subscription deal for QuickBooks Online will be active for the next three months to help accountants get their small business clients started on QuickBooks. Local developers can now publish apps as part of the QuickBooks Global App Store, to include payroll, payments, inventory, and purpose-built applications for specific regions, to integrate with QuickBooks.

Tech Data Partners With GitLab For DevOps

Kuala Lumpur, May 9: Tech Data’s Tec D1 has partnered with GitLab to address the DevSecOps and application modernization market demand for partners and customers.
Application modernization is increasingly becoming a priority with 86 per cent of enterprises in Asia Pacific indicating it as a top IT priority.
Through this partnership, GitLab’s DevSecOps platform will be available in eight markets across Asia Pacific and Japan, allowing channel partners and independent software vendors to leverage the benefits of application modernization and DevOps.
The Asia Pacific region is expected to witness a market growth of 26.3 per cent during the forecast period (2021-2030).
GitLab’s open-source DevSecOps platform empowers organizations to deliver software faster and more efficiently while strengthening security and compliance.
Tec D will offer the platform through its Centre of Excellence (CoE), which enables the partner community with its practice builder enablement framework and through service-as-offerings.

PropertyGuru Malaysia Q2 Report

Kuala Lumpur, May 9: PropertyGuru Malaysia released its Q2 Property Market Report, which showed a decrease in property demand and supply due to global economic uncertainties.
The Sale Demand Index decreased by 5.6 per cent, while the Sale Supply Index decreased by 0.6 per cent. The report also tracked a 1.6 per cent QoQ increase in the asking price of properties listed on
Malaysia’s projected lower economic growth may lead to a more attractive property market in the second half of the year. The Rental Demand Index decreased by 6.3 per cent, likely due to the 4.7 per cent QoQ rise in rental prices.
As a result, the Selangor state government plans to expand its Smart Rental Scheme to low-cost housing. With rising rental prices, developers and landlords may consider repurposing unsold properties into co-living spaces.
Johor had the most viewed residential properties in Q1 2023 and is anticipated to continue developing as a digital hub. Despite the current housing affordability issue, Sheldon Fernandez, Country Manager, Malaysia ( and, is cautiously optimistic that the economy will show improvement in the second half of 2023. However, with the OPR hikes, property buyers and sellers will continue to navigate a challenging and unpredictable property market.

Brony Culture Explored Documentary

‘A Brony Tale’, launches Geek Pride Day, May 25th on iwonder

Sydney, May 10: Canadian voice artist Ashleigh Ball became an internet phenomenon when she voiced two characters in the fourth-generation of Hasbro’s My Little Pony series. A subculture of grown-ups obsessed with the show, called Bronies, have created online forums, drawn their characters, remixed videos on YouTube, and arranged meetups. A documentary called A Brony Tale explores this unusual world and dispels the assumption that these men are weirdos or paedophiles. Director Brent Hodge uses interviews, film clips, internet entries, and new footage of actual conventions to examine the world of the Brony.
Each Brony has their unique story to tell about how they got involved in My Little Pony. Some suffer from autism, some have post-traumatic stress disorder after serving in Iraq, and others are fed up with the assumption that men have to put on a mask of masculinity to be accepted by society. A Brony Tale examines the courage it takes just to be yourself, even if that means liking a cartoon intended for young girls.
Head of Content at iWonder, Adrian Chia, encourages viewers to dispel their preconceptions about adult men’s fascination with a child’s world and embrace the heartwarming story of a community who find acceptance and camaraderie through a cartoon that carries messages of joy and love. New viewers can watch A Brony Tale for free by signing up for a 14-day free trial, with access to over 1,000 acclaimed documentary films and series. iWonder is available on mobile phones via iOS and Android apps, browsers at, and various streaming services. Monthly and annual subscription plans are available for a fee.

Australian Budget Boosts Statistics

Sydney, May 10: Dr David Gruen AO, the Australian Statistician, has welcomed the Federal Budget’s investment of $172.7 million over the next four years for the Australian Bureau of Statistics (ABS). The funding includes $16.4 million for the Life Course Data Initiative and the largest part will go towards the second phase of the Big Data, Timely Insights program. The program aims to produce critical new data, including a complete monthly measure of the Consumer Price Index (CPI), which will inform monetary and fiscal policy decisions affecting Australians. The funding will also help modernize and replace legacy IT systems by transitioning data assets and methods to a secure and scalable cloud environment.
Dr Gruen emphasized the importance of the ABS’s role in collecting high-quality statistics and producing data that enables complex analysis of Australia’s population and economy, informing important decisions affecting people’s daily lives. The Life Course Data Initiative aims to access and link new administrative data assets to generate a better understanding of intergenerational disadvantage. The Federal Budget’s allocation demonstrates continued support for the ABS’s crucial role in serving the Australian community.

AI Marketing Collaboration Launched

Sydney, May 10: Mortar AI has partnered with Microsoft, Adform, and LiveRamp to develop Mortar Marketing, a software-as-a-service (SaaS) marketing automation platform for small to medium marketing agencies. The platform offers easy access to programmatic advertising, data cleansing and consolidation, and solutions to help manage the ongoing addressability challenge. Mortar AI’s suite of digital marketing tools is affordable and accessible to agencies of all sizes. Mortar Marketing, developed using technology from Microsoft, Adform, and LiveRamp, bridges the gap between small and medium agencies’ problems.
Mortar Marketing platform is powered by the Microsoft Azure cloud infrastructure and utilises Databricks to streamline data cleansing, enrichment, analysis, and deployment of data engineering workflows for optimal efficiency. Leveraging proprietary machine learning models running on Databricks, Mortar generates unprecedented insights for business owners. Mortar’s partnership with Adform facilitates seamless programmatic advertising activation through the portal, and its collaboration with LiveRamp enables Mortar to connect, unify, control, and activate data across various channels and devices.
Mortar’s goal is to democratise technology for all agencies, levelling the playing field so that they can compete with larger competitors and deliver better results for their clients. Mortar Marketing is designed for small to mid-size digital agencies that want to enhance their capabilities, maximise their return on investment, and deliver superior results for their clients in an affordable and accessible way. Mortar’s partnership with Microsoft has also led to its selection for the Go Global program, where Microsoft and Austrade empower Australian startups to expand into the US market.

Europe’s Alcohol Consumption Crisis

Sydney, May 10: According to research conducted by, Europe has almost double the global average of alcohol consumption, with an average of 11.85 liters per person per year. The study analyzed data from the World Health Organization (WHO) and used metrics such as liters consumed per capita, deaths related to alcohol, alcohol use disorders, heavy episodic drinking, and road traffic deaths to determine which countries in Europe have the most severe alcohol-related issues.
Russia tops the list as the country with the highest prevalence of alcohol-related problems, with 21 per cent of deaths and 14 per cent of deaths due to alcohol use disorders. Belarus, Latvia, Lithuania, Ireland, Slovenia, Estonia, Moldova, Poland, and the United Kingdom follow closely behind.
The research suggests that heavy drinking cultures exist across Europe, leading to serious health and social issues. For instance, many of these countries report high percentages of the population drinking heavily episodically in a month, and alcohol is linked to a considerable number of road traffic deaths. Moreover, alcohol use disorders affect a significant portion of the population in some of these countries, and the figures indicate the dangers of prolonged addiction or binge drinking. emphasizes that addressing alcohol abuse in Europe requires a multifaceted approach that considers both individual behaviors and broader societal factors. While drinking can be a fun activity and can be consumed safely in moderation, the study’s findings paint a much darker picture of premature death, mental and physical health issues, and prolonged addiction or binge drinking. Stress, depression, and social groups can also play a role in the development of alcoholism and related issues.

Carbonix Partners With ArgenTech

Left to right: Carbonix CEO, Philip van der Burg and Founder, Dario Valenza.

Sydney, May 11: To increase its market share in the US, Australian drone company Carbonix has teamed up with New Hampshire-based ArgenTech Solutions. The two businesses have a Master Service Agreement under which ArgenTech will use Carbonix’s Uncrewed Aerial Systems for flight operations, maintenance, and pilot training. By working together, Carbonix will be able to provide its VTOL aircraft for a range of commercial, non-profit, and governmental customer missions in the US and other American continents. A veteran-owned small firm with a focus on technology development and integration, ArgenTech. The company is an expert in managing processes, procedures, and precise operations.
Drones made by Carbonix are built for lengthy flight times, wide operating ranges, and dependable performance in adverse conditions. In Greater Sydney, the business recently acquired certification for Beyond Visual Line of Sight (BVLoS), opening the door for BVLoS testing and missions with complex payloads. After forming a partnership with aerospace companies Quickstep and GPC, Carbonix increased manufacturing in 2022. In order to assist their aerial surveying programmes, the company has also teamed with SA Power Networks, the ACT Rural Fire Service, and geo-data provider Fugro.
The relationship with ArgenTech, according to Carbonix CEO Philip van der Burg, would allow the company to tap into a sizable and quickly expanding market with its Australian expertise and capabilities. The partnership with Carbonix and the power of their technology, according to ArgenTech CEO Brian Veroneau, will increase their capabilities across the Americas.

SAS Invests In Industry-Specific AI

Kuala Lumpur, May 11: SAS, the leader in analytics, will invest $1 billion over the next three years to develop advanced analytics solutions for specific industries. The industry solutions will run on SAS Viya, a cloud-native AI and analytics platform. With insights from industry-focused analytics, businesses can find opportunities amidst challenges. The investment includes direct R&D, industry-focused teams, and marketing efforts. It will fund the innovative work of SAS data scientists, statisticians and software developers working with consultants, systems engineers and marketers with specific industry experience.
SAS is committed to democratizing data analytics, putting the power of advanced analytics in the hands of more people with varied experience and job roles. As organizations continue to embrace AI, machine learning, computer vision, and IoT analytics, people of all skill levels can participate in the analytics process through low- or no-code options. SAS’ industry solutions benefit data scientists, statisticians, business analysts, city planners, medical personnel, and frontline workers.
SAS already offers a wide variety of industry-specific solutions, and it will refine these solutions through the ongoing investment while developing new solutions to address additional needs. To help banking and insurance customers meet economic headwinds, SAS acquired Kamakura Corp, a financial risk firm known for its rigor, particularly in integrated balance sheet management. The acquisition added renowned names in quantitative risk management to SAS’ roster and is accelerating advances in SAS’ suite of integrated risk solutions.
SAS is also prioritizing innovation in enterprise decisioning, helping financial firms streamline operational complexity while yielding faster, more accurate decisions that boost customer experience. With the billion-dollar investment, SAS will continue to support companies using AI, machine learning, and advanced analytics to fight fraud, manage risk, better serve customers and citizens, and much more. The investment is in line with the trend toward democratizing data analytics and putting analytics for everyone, everywhere.

Sophos Reports Active Adversaries

Kuala Lumpur, May 11: Sophos, a global cybersecurity company, has released its Active Adversary Report for Business Leaders, which analyzed data from over 150 Sophos Incident Response (IR) cases. The report identified more than 500 unique tools and techniques, including 118 “Living off the Land” binaries (LOLBins), which are executables naturally found on operating systems, making them more difficult for defenders to block. Sophos found that unpatched vulnerabilities were the most common root cause of attackers gaining initial access to targeted systems. In half of the investigations included in the report, attackers exploited ProxyShell and Log4Shell vulnerabilities to infiltrate organizations.
The report also revealed that more than two-thirds of the attacks investigated (68 per cent) involved ransomware, with ransomware also accounting for nearly three-quarters of Sophos’ IR investigations over the past three years. While ransomware still dominates the threat landscape, attacker dwell time decreased in 2022, from 15 to 10 days, for all attack types. For ransomware cases, the dwell time decreased from 11 to 9 days, while the decrease was even greater for non-ransomware attacks.
Sophos noted that organizations that have successfully implemented layered defenses with constant monitoring are seeing better outcomes in terms of attack severity. The report is based on 152 IR investigations spanning the globe across 22 sectors, with targeted organizations located in 31 different countries. The most represented sectors are manufacturing (20 per cent), followed by healthcare (12 per cent), education (9 per cent), and retail (8 per cent). The report provides organizations with actionable threat intelligence and insights needed to optimize security strategies and defenses.

Payroll Jobs Fall Seasonally

Sydney, May 11: Payroll jobs in Australia fell seasonally by 0.9 per cent in April, following a rise in March, according to the Australian Bureau of Statistics.
All states and territories experienced a fall in payroll jobs, with Queensland experiencing the largest decline at 1.3 per cent, due in part to early school holidays.
The accommodation and food services industry saw the largest fall in payroll jobs at 2.2 per cent.
ABS head of labour statistics, Bjorn Jarvis, noted that the fall in payroll jobs was expected due to the Easter holiday period, which usually sees a short-term decline of this size.
The fall in payroll jobs followed a seasonal pattern similar to that seen in 2021 and 2022.

Centenarian Portrait Project Finale

Canberra, May 12: Teenagers immortalize 100-year-olds in Australia through art, showcasing the rich tapestry of life in the country and fostering intergenerational connections.
The 465 artworks created over the project’s seven-year journey will be featured in a six-week national exhibition called “100 Canberra” at the Belconnen Arts Centre.
The exhibit will showcase 100 of the most outstanding portraits, selected from the diverse styles, approaches, and mediums of the teenage artists and super seniors.
The project aims to promote understanding, counteract age-related stereotypes, and break down loneliness and negative ageing stigma.
The initiative is sponsored by Estia Health, the Commonwealth Department of Health and Aged Care, and supported by the Australian Human Rights Commission and the ACT Government.

MR D.I.Y. Launches New Retail Brand: EMTOP

Kuala Lumpur, May 13: MR D.I.Y. Group Berhad has announced the availability of EMTOP, a well-known international hardware brand, in Malaysia.
The group opened its first EMTOP store at Bandar Puteri, Puchong, Selangor, on April 24.
The range offers over 1,000 products including power tools, power tool accessories, and power source tools.
EMTOP, trusted in 80 countries across the world, is known for the quality and resilience of their build. Interestingly, EMTOP tools use a standard battery across their more than 100+ tools, making it convenient and efficient for users.
Speaking at the grand opening of the new store, MR D.I.Y. Group’s Chief Executive Officer, Adrian Ong, said the pandemic, the rising cost of raw materials, and the higher cost of services have all inspired a do-it-yourself culture among Malaysians. This culture has increased demand for hardware, tools and gadgets, leading to the decision to become the master franchisee of the EMTOP brand in Malaysia.
Another EMTOP store is set to open today at Jalan Nanas Kawasan 18, Klang, Selangor.
EMTOP joins the MR D.I.Y. Group line-up of brands, which includes MR. D.I.Y., MR. TOY, MR. DOLLAR, MR. D.I.Y. Express, and MR D.I.Y. PLUS. With the opening of EMTOP, the Group now has a total of more than 1,100 stores nationwide.
In conjunction with the opening of the first EMTOP store, the retailer has organised an interesting line-up of activities, including discounts of up to 30 percent on power tools, and gift-with-purchase promotions when customers buy EMTOP products.
Additionally, the retailer will conduct a series of product demonstrations at EMTOP, Bandar Puteri Puchong, and MidValley Megamall, Kuala Lumpur. The activities will run from May 5 to June 5.

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