Hang on to your hats: cyber security for 2022 will be a particularly challenging issue for companies in the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region.
Last year’s cyber-attacks – including ransomware attacks on a Singaporean eye clinic and AXA's Asia Division (covering Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Philippines) – have put APAC companies on notice.
These companies have largely increased spending on cyber security, due to these attacks and a convergence of other trends that have impacted the APAC security landscape. Beyond the documented rise in cyber-attacks (a 168% year-on-year increase as of May 2021), the regional business sector also faces accelerated digitalisation, higher migration to the cloud, and the rapid transformation of security technologies and techniques.
The past few years have seen the increasing convergence of information technology (IT) and operational technology (OT) in heavy industry: for instance, edge computing that empowers automation on the factory floor; or digital twins that virtually recreate new products or processes.
This convergence has unfortunately opened gaps in cyber security that malicious actors have not hesitated to exploit. Blended IT/OT systems have widened the attack surface, with industrial control systems (ICS) being a favourite target by transnational hacker groups.
As reliance on third-party vendors continues to grow, businesses now must also think about their partners’ cyber security vulnerabilities on top of their own. The alternative – avoiding all third-party relationships altogether – is completely impractical, given the substantial business value such partnerships often deliver.
According to a 2021 SecureLink / Ponemon Institute study, third-party contractors with remote, privileged access to organisational IT systems have inadvertently become a major cause of data breaches; 44% of organisations reported a third-party breach in the past 12 months, and 74% of these respondents confessed they had given up too much privileged access, leading to the breach.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai has warned that quantum computers will be able to break standard encryption methods within as little as five years, a conclusion shared by over 70% of decision-makers in a recent DigiCert survey.
Much of the progress is happening within the APAC region, particularly in China, the front-runner in the “quantum race” based on recent research. Developing the world’s most powerful quantum computer, beating distance records for transmitting quantum data, and new techniques for solving problems using “qubits” (quantum bits) have put Chinese quantum research leaps and bounds ahead of their Western counterparts.