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SPEEDA Expert's Insight | Cybersecurity in ASEAN

25 September 2023

Introduction to Cybersecurity

Amidst the rapid expansion of businesses on digital platforms, safeguarding companies' online presence has become increasingly paramount. This has led to heightened attention towards cybersecurity these days.

From personal devices to corporate networks and government institutions, the spectre of cyber attacks looms large.  The most prevalent types of cyber attacks include malware, phishing attacks, denial-of-service incidents (DoS), man-in-the-middle attacks, and SQL injections.

As the landscape of threats continues to evolve in diverse ways, the cybersecurity sector is concurrently advancing with innovative defense strategies. The market is predicted to grow at a CAGR of 13% from 2021 to 2029, reaching a total value of USD 376 billion.

To counter the growing threat, cybersecurity regulations have been established worldwide. These regulations aim to protect systems and sensitive information from cyber attacks, securing corporate systems. Specific regulations and their coverage vary by region or country where the business operates. For instance, the European Union's GDPR (General Data Protection Regulation) was designed to govern businesses operating within the EU region.

(Source: SPEEDA Trend Report - Cyber Security (World)

In this article, we will provide insights from our Expert Network Service - FLASH Opinion, focusing on emerging trends in the ASEAN region. We will delve into market trends, strategies for safeguarding corporate data in SMEs, and the government's pivotal role in enhancing cybersecurity infrastructure.

Learn more about FLASH Opinion Service here.

Insight:Cybersecurity in ASEAN

New Technology and threats in ASEAN

In the dynamic landscape of ASEAN's technology and cybersecurity industry, below trends are currently making waves:

  • Large Language Model (LLM ) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) model - In 2023, a significant trend in the APAC region is the adoption of LLM and AI model-driven security products and services. The models offering advanced capabilities and skill sets that empower the workforce to handle day-to-day tasks efficiently are experiencing high demand from the management side of the businesses in the region.

  • Ransomware-as-a-service (RaaS) - Accessible and affordable ransomware rented out by cybercriminals and deployed at a scale by multiple disconnected threat actors. This Malware category is especially threatening the APAC region compared to other regions. RaaS actors also go after both SMEs and large corporations to pay the ransomware to prevent data leaks. RaaS software Lockbit 3.0, Cont deployed in APAC and ransomware gangs Lapsus$ drives the growth.

  • Personal Data Protection - As the current chairman of ASEAN, Indonesia took a significant step last year by enacting the first law on personal data protection. Given that data flows across state boundaries, this move has the potential to inspire other countries in the region to follow suit. Indonesia has experienced substantial growth in its digital economy, creating a heightened demand for cybersecurity products to protect consumers and foster industrial development. As well as Singapore stand out for some of the strongest national cybersecurity agencies in the world and Singapore upholds stringent privacy laws.


Enhancing Cybersecurity in SMEs

“SMEs have growingly become a lucrative target for cyber attackers since they lack strong cyber defenses in place. As of 2020, 60% of SME owners think they are less likely to be attacked, turning a blind eye towards security solutions which further places them as prime targets for cyber attacks.”  (Source: SPEEDA Trend Report - Cyber Security (World)

To bolster defenses, SMEs should implement robust cybersecurity practices, educate employees, and conduct routine security audits. 

Endpoint security solutions should be deployed to safeguard individual devices ensuring their network is secure, and regularly backing up their data.

SMEs should review internal controls, segregate networks, keep software updated with security patches, and employ anti-ransomware tools. 

Access to sensitive data should be restricted to authorised personnel, reducing the risk of insider threats. Lastly, employee training and awareness programs are crucial in defending against social engineering and phishing attacks.

Strengthening Cybersecurity through Collaboration and Regulation

Southeast Asian emerging economies are expecting forging partnerships with both government and private sector entities to strengthen their cybersecurity defences. 

At both regional and national levels, initiatives are taking shape. For instance, organisations like APCERT (Asia Pacific Computer Emergency Response Team) collaborate with CERTs (Computer Emergency Response Team) and CSIRTs  (Computer Security Incident Response Team)  to ensure internet security in the Asia Pacific region, raising awareness about security maturity in the face of evolving threats. Thailand's NCSA National Cyber Security Agency of Thailand and  TH-CERT (Thailand Computer Emergency Response Team) organise events that bring in external cybersecurity experts to educate critical infrastructure teams.

Regulatory frameworks, standards, and incentives provided by governments can help mitigate cyber threats but also foster a resilient digital ecosystem that encourages innovation, trade, and trust. 

Recognizing the financial constraints faced by SMEs in enhancing cybersecurity, governments are expected to extend their support, safeguarding national security, protecting critical infrastructure, promoting public-private partnerships, and investing in research and development, for the digital economy's growth.


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