According to one study, organizations expect increased technology budgets to support escalated digital transformation for recovery despite severe economic headwinds.

In a recent survey of 2,017 business leaders in Australia, New Zealand, India, Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Indonesia, Hong Kong and Japan, 65% of respondents expected technology budgets to increase.

Among those respondents who believed there should be more investments in remote-working, the highest number (74%) listed enhancement of cybersecurity measures as a priority for additional investment.

The report, commissioned by CrowdStrike Inc. and conducted by  independent research firm StollzNow,  indicates that many organizations have experienced digital transformation at an unprecedented pace and scale across business segments and operations, having quickly moved to mass remote-working arrangements during COVID-19 to survive.

In fact, 44% of business leaders surveyed said the pandemic accelerated their move to cloud solutions, while 82% said the pandemic changed the way they interact with or deliver products and services to customers.

As organizations look to protect today’s distributed workforce, the survey results indicate a strong shift and rapid investment into next-generation cloud-native solutions for digital transformation.

More security consciousness needed

As cybersecurity is front of mind for budget allocation, many respondents recognized that COVID-19 has brought on a massive increase in cyber-threats, which has reportedly risen by more than 330% since the start of the year.

As business leaders look forward and put the initial shock of the pandemic behind them, they will need to address the issues of solidifying secure digital transformation plans, prioritizing and assigning budgets to the most appropriate and critical areas—including cybersecurity training and protecting new supply chains.

Said Andrew Littleproud, Vice President, APJ, CrowdStrike: “The COVID-19 pandemic may have had the biggest impact on the way organizations operate since the introduction of office PCs. The reaction of business leaders has been impressive, but the speed and size of change to a remote workforce led to some inevitable gaps, particularly in the cybersecurity of organizations. Our findings show that respondents understand these gaps and expect to address them in the recovery, going beyond ‘good enough’ security measures to ensure their employees remain secure against sophisticated threat activity regardless of where they are located.”

Littleproud noted that it will be vital to implement solutions that can be quickly deployed at scale to detect new threats, adhere to new regulations, and leverage the cloud so they can be easily managed remotely.

Other notable findings from the CrowdStrike cybersecurity report include:

  • 39% of respondents have not changed their security programs as a result of COVID-19, although organizations have changed their IT environments to accommodate remote workers—potentially exposing their organizations to cyber risks from new and more sophisticated attacks.
  • Employee education and communication are key to a successful cybersecurity strategy, yet 20% of business leaders did not know what to do in the event of a data breach, and 36% had not received communications about COVID-19-themed malware. Moving forward, 76% of APJ business leaders said they planned on additional security training in the future.
  • 67% of business leaders believed that their organizations should invest more in building a remote-work environment.
  • Top cybersecurity challenges expected in the next 18 months included remote workforce (54%), new regulation (49%) and costs of compliance (48%), with limited budgets (47%) and additional training (41%) ranking not far behind.