According to the Tech Trends and Priorities 2019 Survey done by CIO Academy Asia, a community of technology and business leaders throughout Asia, cybersecurity has emerged as one of the top tech focus areas of 2019.
Cybersecurity is defined as protecting an organisation against the criminal or unauthorized use of its electronic data. With Southeast Asia´s booming e-commerce industry and technology driven enterprises on the rise, cybersecurity has become a major concern. About 66% of survey respondents reported that risk management, data analytics, and cybersecurity would account for most of their spending in the next two years.
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The survey participants were especially concerned with handling advanced threat prevention. This is a problematic subject, as it includes insider and unknown threats along with complying with government regulations. It also requires implementing and managing a uniform security policy throughout the organisation.
While respondents were less concerned with how to engineer cybersecurity software, they were more apprehensive about getting employees and procedures in place to monitor their security systems. They noted the right personnel is essential to maintaining a strong security system.
Enter the champions to the field and the reason 2019 can be a great year for cybersecurity in Southeast Asia.
Champions of cybersecurity
In October 2018, Russian cybersecurity company Group IB announced plans to open global headquarters in Singapore later that year or early 2019. The Moscow-based company was founded in 2003 and investigates high-tech crimes and online fraud.
Its clientele includes banks, energy companies, and telecom firms worldwide, from Russia to Latin America. The company with a team of 300 also has offices in London, New York, and Dubai.
Chief executive and co-founder Ilya Sachkov, who is a cybersecurity engineer himself, noted the timeliness of the move. He said that Singapore is Asia’s financial centre and that the company has a history of doing well with their products both in Singapore and Asia.
In January 2019, Trend Micro launched a new Asia-Pacific, Middle East and Africa (AMEA) headquarters in Singapore. The regional HQ will be a managed detection and response (MDR) security operations centre, and host cybersecurity briefing sessions for clients and government officials in the region.
Trend Micro also incorporated its Certification Program in IT Security in the new centre. Southeast Asian computer science-related graduates can apply to the programme starting in the second half of 2019.
The AMEA vice-president at Trend Micro, Dhanya Thakkar notes that Singapore’s “strong vision for cyber security for the next 10 years makes it the perfect location for Trend Micro’s regional headquarters.”
Although US-headquartered communications and data services player CenturyLink has had operations present in the Asia-Pacific since the early 2000s, January 2019 marked the launch of its first Southeast Asian security operations centre (SOC) in Singapore.
The company’s objective with the facility is to meet the growing needs of regional enterprising customers in tackling cybersecurity threats. CenturyLink’s network-based security solution offers enterprises “the ability to predict, protect, and respond to internal and external threats.”
Increasing the skills of cybersecurity talent in Singapore and around the region is another goal of the company, so is building its existing operation in Asia which includes three dedicated operations centres, three DDoS scrubbing centres, four cloud connect locations and eight content delivery network (CDN) locations. Its global operation centres span from India to London and the U.S.
CenturyLink’s Asia-Pacific Vice-president of Product Management Francis Thangasamy states that the Singapore launch signifies “enterprises are better protected through our comprehensive methodology of people, process, and technology to tackle an ever-evolving threat landscape and help secure their digital futures.”
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BT expanded its global cybersecurity operations in January 2019 by officially opening a major new office in Singapore. The office will be its base for global connectivity and cybersecurity operations in Southeast Asia.
The office hosts over 300 highly skilled staff that will support a growing list of regional customers with dependable connectivity, cloud services, and top-level security. The office comprises a customer experience centre and cybersecurity hub, along with the previously mentioned support functions.
James Hennah, BT’s managing director for Southeast Asia, explained that the customer experience centre will, “showcase BT’s global connectivity products to customers in the region and build on our established presence with both networking and cyber operations in the wider Asia Pacific region.”
The company’s aim is to recruit local talent amid concerns of a possible skills shortage. It has over 14 Security Operations Centres (SOC) protecting customers worldwide in more than 180 countries. With headquarters in the UK, the Singapore office is only its second cybersecurity facility outside the UK behind Sydney.
As Industry 4.0 progresses in Southeast Asia, cyber threats to enterprises continue to expand. The global threat environment is increasing in scope and complexity, requiring updated cybersecurity solutions to meet these challenges.
Fortunately, with the welcomed presence of new and experienced cybersecurity companies in the region, there is a confident outlook for cybersecurity in 2019.