Malaysia organisations urged to evolve security strategies to boost resilience

  • Top concerns are on remote access technologies as people continue to work from home
  • Only 38% of organisations in Malaysia have a robust approach to cybersecurity

Malaysia organisations urged to evolve security strategies to boost resilience Organizations across Asia Pacific that adapted quickly to the pandemic by accelerating their digital transformation could have their hard-won resiliency threatened due to misalignment between business priorities and technology strategies, according to IDC and Fortinet

The research firm however said that a holistic, carefully-aligned security approach and the right partnerships would help them retain their resiliency gains, they said in a statement.

The conclusions were highlighted in a new brief by IDC and cybersecurity vendor Fortinet in a bid to help chief information security officer (CISOs) and their security teams remain relevant in a digital-first world. 

The brief also outlines the unique trends, risks and challenges for businesses in six economies across the region alongside a pattern of mismatched business and technology concerns, IDC said.

Paradox of misaligned priorities 

According to IDC's research, chief experience officers (CxOs) cited building resilience/mitigating risk (61%) and cost reduction/optimization (63%) as top business priorities.

For technology teams, both IT security investments and a shift to hybrid cloud models have been proven to address the risk issues of continuity and security, it said.

Yet, IDC said it has found that implementing security technologies to reduce risk (33%) is one of the lowest ranked technology priorities.  

The study indicates that CISOs in all markets are challenged with recruiting talent, which is critical to the success of IT security teams. In contrast, improving the ability to attract and retain the workforce was seventh in terms of C-suite business priorities for 2021.

Within this paradox of misaligned priorities, CISOs and cybersecurity strategies must evolve to complement the business and achieve true resiliency, the study noted.

Threat Landscape   

According to IDC, Malaysia’s top concern focuses on remote access technologies (36%) as people continue to work from home.  

Meanwhile, the latest FortiGuard Labs Global Threat Landscape Report from the first half of 2021 demonstrates a significant increase in the volume and sophistication of attacks targeting individuals, organisations, and increasingly critical infrastructure.

The expanding attack surface of hybrid workers and learners, in and out of the traditional network, continues to be a target, Fortinet added.

The report found that most phishing attacks were targeted towards local small-medium businesses in Malaysia, and that cyber fraud continues to be a major cause for concern. 

It said a large number of ransomware attacks on local organisations can be traced to the Netwalker ransomware group which has increasingly used the approach of double-extortion attacks.  

It added that organisations face risks and a threat landscape with attacks on all fronts. 

Alarmingly, IDC’s Asia/Pacific Digital Resilience Scorecard revealed that only 38% of organisations in Malaysia have a robust approach to cybersecurity.

“The IDC InfoBrief underscores the continuing relevance of CISOs and security teams in a digital-first world,” said Simon Piff, vice president of Security Practice, IDC Asia/Pacific. 

“We see a need for CISOs to refine and align their strategies with C-suite concerns, and to combat complexity and resource shortfalls today with trusted security partners which can provide expertise and insights that would be otherwise out of reach,” he added. 

“The security risks of remote working will continue to persist locally as cybersecurity threats escalate and the organisation’s attack surface expands,” said Alex Loh, country manager at Fortinet.  

“This remains a core concern of the CISO but local businesses need to balance technology and business priorities to enhance the value of their security programs,” he added.

Loh said C-suite leaders need to work with IT teams to develop a holistic strategy that will address both parties’ needs of attracting and retaining the workforce.

He added that other C-suite priorities are optimising costs, enabling business growth and improving business resilience.

“Stymied by the misalignment of C-suite priorities and recruitment concerns, CISOs that work with the right partners will be best able to devise the cybersecurity strategy holistically and execute a successful cybersecurity program,” Loh said.  

Best Practices 

Taking these trends and challenges into account, organisations are urged to adopt a range of business and security strategies to ensure they can continue to operate successfully and stay resilient as IT architectures and security risks evolve at pace, IDC and Fortinet said.

The recommendations include: 

  • Ensure alignment of business and technology priorities and processes: Employees now work from anywhere in the new normal and to secure a remote workforce, organisations must align business processes with best practices around communication privacy and authentication. These processes should also align with cultural processes that promote effective communication in an agile, trust-based environment;
  • Deploy a holistic security solution: What used to be known as the 'network perimeter' is now splintered across the infrastructure due to the explosion of network edges, work from anywhere, and multi-cloud models. Therefore, organisations need a broad cybersecurity strategy, implementing a platform with end-to-end security, and a single pane of glass approach to management offering full visibility across the entire attack surface; and
  • Adopt a zero trust approach: To respond to increasing and evolving threats, best practices now stipulate a "trust no one, trust nothing" attitude toward network access. IT teams must move toward a zero trust approach to cybersecurity, which means all users, all devices, and all web applications from the cloud must be trusted, authenticated, and have the right amount of access privilege. 

The IDC InfoBrief: Stop Reacting, Start Strategising report drew on the findings of various recent IDC surveys, including the IDC Asia/Pacific CxO Study, February 2021, IDC's Global IT Skills Survey, April 2021, and IDC’s Asia/Pacific Digital Resiliency Scorecard, March 2021​.


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