The numbers from a small survey point to respondents increasingly recognizing state-level vulnerabilities accruing to the digital transformation of operational technologies.

In an April 2023 online survey involving 500 corporate IT decision-makers and business leaders across Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, the Philippines, and Thailand (100 respondents from each country) on the state of cybersecurity in the region, some key findings were discerned.

Firstly, 67% of respondents indicated feeling “the highest level of risk from cyber threats”, with ransomware being a key concern for more than half of Singapore respondents. Secondly, across the ASEAN region, 60% of respondents indicated viewing increased security risks arising from unmonitored and unsecured IoT devices as the biggest cybersecurity challenge.

Also, among all the respondents, who hailed from industries such as Services (Banking, Financial); Government/Public Sector/ Essential Services; Telco/Tech/Communications; Retail/Hotel/F&B; Transport and Logistics; and Manufacturing:

    • 66% of respondents indicated an increase in cybersecurity budget for FY 2023 over FY 2022, with 31% indicating no real increase
    • 82% indicated having a common team that looked after IT and OT infrastructure and systems
    • 84% indicated having developed a 5G strategy, but were concerned with securing 5G data and applications layers
    • 53% indicated thinking of AI integration as the top technology for mitigating cyber risks
    • The top technologies cited by respondents to be used in the next two years were AI (including machine learning, predictive analytics, voice recognition, sentiment analytics) at 53%; Big data/data lake applications at 43%; distributed ledger technologies including blockchain/ledgers and smart contracts at 38%; and 5G at 37%

According to Steven Scheurmann, Regional Vice President(ASEAN), Palo Alto Networks, which commissioned the survey, in response to the ever-changing threat landscape, and the IT/OT integration across industries, organizations need to strategically consider a unified approach to cybersecurity. “To further fortify their security posture, it is imperative to place significant emphasis on cloud security adoption, reinforce IoT and OT security measures, and enhance endpoint protection. This teamwork enables organizations to gain a comprehensive view of their security and respond more quickly and effectively to emerging threats.”