Malaysia’s Cybersecurity Challenges

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Kuala Lumpur, Sept 12: Palo Alto Networks (NASDAQ: PANW), a global cybersecurity leader, has unveiled its 2023 State of Cybersecurity ASEAN report following a recent media briefing.
The report reveals that Malaysia witnessed the highest number of disruptive cyberattacks within the ASEAN region over the past year.
Approximately one-third of Malaysian organizations reported a significant increase of 50 per cent or more in cybersecurity incidents.
Securing operational technology (OT), particularly in critical infrastructure, remains a top priority as essential services faced a higher frequency of disruptive attacks compared to other sectors.
Key cybersecurity concerns in Malaysia are centered around malware (64 per cent), ransomware attacks (64 per cent), and password attacks (47 per cent).

Steven Scheurmann. Image supplied.
Steven Scheurmann. Image supplied.

The growing reliance on cloud-based services and applications has exposed local businesses to increased cyber risks (55 per cent), while the expanded use of cloud services and apps has also heightened concerns (53 per cent).
Furthermore, the rising threat from unsecured Internet of Things (IoT) devices connected to networks is perceived as a significant challenge (49 per cent).
The cybersecurity budget in Malaysia is experiencing a boost, with 79 per cent of organizations indicating an increase in their cybersecurity budget allocation for 2023, the highest percentage among ASEAN countries.
Moreover, 33 per cent of Malaysian organizations reported a budget increase of over 50 per cent compared to 2022, reflecting a positive trend in strengthening resilience against cybersecurity threats. This trend is attributed to 80 per cent of Malaysian businesses now discussing cybersecurity on a monthly or quarterly basis, a significant increase from 46 per cent in 2022.
Despite the high risk of cyber threats, 89 per cent of organizations in Malaysia express confidence in their adopted security measures.
However, small businesses exhibit relatively lower confidence due to limited cybersecurity budgets and a shortage of in-house cybersecurity expertise.
Steven Scheurmann, Regional Vice President for ASEAN at Palo Alto Networks, emphasized the need for businesses, especially SMEs, to update their security capabilities and develop actionable incident response plans to address evolving threats.
In terms of securing operational technology (OT) and IoT, the report indicates that while 60 per cent of companies can identify OT security incidents within two-three days, 57 per cent take longer, sometimes up to 1-4 weeks, to achieve recovery.
This highlights the importance of improving incident response times to OT threats in Malaysian organizations to reduce downtime.
Scheurmann noted the increasing vulnerability of OT environments to threats and the importance of prioritizing OT security.
On a regional level, the adoption of AI integration is prominent among businesses across Southeast Asia, especially in the Telco/Tech/Communications industries.
In Malaysia, organizations are demonstrating a higher interest in deploying big data/data lake applications, driven by customer expectations for cybersecurity firms to leverage AI to enhance their services.
The survey, conducted in April, involved 500 corporate IT decision-makers and business leaders across five key industries in Southeast Asia: Services (Banking, Financial), Government/Public Sector/Essential Services, Telco/Tech/Communications, Retail/Hotel/F&B, Transport and Logistics, and Manufacturing. Each of the five countries, Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand, had 100 respondents.

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