Cyber security a priority in Asean boardrooms in 2022: Palo Alto

  • Nine in 10 say cyber security will be a priority for business leaders
  • Seven in 10 reported plans to increase cyber security budgets in 2022

Cyber security a priority in Asean boardrooms in 2022: Palo AltoPalo Alto Networks unveiled a new research that found Asean business leaders prioritising cyber security issues at the board level, as a result of the disruptions brought about by Covid-19. 

The State of Cyber Security 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 cyber security challenges in 2021 and outlook for the future.

In a statement, it said against the pandemic backdrop, cyber security has risen to the top of the leadership agenda for many Asean businesses with a vast majority (92%) believing cyber security to be a priority for their business leaders today. 

It added that nearly three in four (74%) also believe their leadership has increased the focus on cyber security.

The survey also stated that leaders are also taking concrete actions to beef up their organisation’s cyber security capabilities, as 96% of organisations reported maintaining a dedicated in-house IT team responsible for managing cyber risks. 

Additionally, it said over two-thirds (68%) reported plans to increase their cyber security budgets in 2022, driven by the adoption of next-generation security capabilities (48%); the need to address existing cyber security gaps (46%); and the need to optimise operations (44%).

Ian Lim, field chief security officer, Palo Alto Networks, said the pandemic has served as a catalyst for Asean business leaders to sit up and pay greater attention to their cyber security defence measures with many recognising the deep impact it can have on their business continuity. 

“To manage today’s remote workforce in a digital-first environment, cyber security 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,” he said.

With demand for remote access by employees working from anywhere becoming a norm, the infrastructure of many businesses hasn’t been designed to cope, the report highlighted. 

Unsurprisingly, this working arrangement has brought on a new set of cyber security challenges, it said. 

The survey respondents also reported that, amongst others, the most pertinent in Malaysia is the increase in digital transactions with suppliers and other third parties (58%); unmonitored and unsecured IoT devices connected to the corporate network (58%), and the need to procure a wider array of cyber security solutions to protect themselves from cyber threats (55%).

Additionally, the majority of Asean organisations (94%) also experienced a rise in the number of attacks in 2021, with one in five (20%) Malaysian organisations experiencing 50% and more increase in disruptive cyber attacks, the report noted.

Amongst all industries surveyed, financial services (45%) and fintechs (42%) notably perceive themselves to be most at risk of cyber attacks, with malware attacks identified as  a top concern.

However, these two industries are also most confident of the cyber security measures put in place to protect themselves from attacks, Palo Alto said. 

Cyber security a priority in Asean boardrooms in 2022: Palo AltoThis confidence might stem from a higher focus on cyber security reported by business leaders in financial services (79%) and fintechs (76%) compared to the average of 74%, the company noted.

Cyber security budgets (chart, above) have also increased the most for organisations in financial services (81%) and fintechs (75%), compared to the 68% average, it said. 

As Covid-19 increasingly drives work and leisure activities towards online platforms, Palo Alto said Asean organisations predict that the one cyber security trend we need to pay attention to the most in 2022 will be for cyber attacks to affect our personal safety.

This is against the backdrop of Malaysian organisations accelerating the remote workforce (68%), followed by increasing the investment in mobile applications (58%), cloud adoption (52%), and 5G (39%), the report stated. 

With digital technologies becoming more interwoven into the workplace, due to the disruption of the pandemic, nine in 10 (90%) Asean organisations are evolving their cyber security strategies to stay protected from attacks, it added.

The report also indicated that In Malaysia, the adoption of revamping threat detection and correlation systems (50%) and cloud security (49%) are two important measures to be implemented by organisations, followed by securing Internet of thing (IoT) (44%), identity and access management (43%) and  secure access service edge (SASE) strategy (39%).

“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 cyber security strategy,” said Suk Hua Lim, country manager, Palo Alto Networks, Malaysia. 

She added that it is inspiring to see that Malaysian organisations have confidence in their cyber security measures and that they are highly aware of taking the right decisions in protecting the nation from cyber disruptions.


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