Year 2020
December 2020

Securing Asian cities against cyber threats

December 07, 2020

THE past 11 months have pushed the limits of our city, forcing us to reimagine our physical space and accelerate our transition into a more digital world.

But this momentous migration of activities into cyberspace is not without worry. This year, global enterprises and agencies have registered the highest growth in cybersecurity threats. As reported by cloud computing firm iomart, large-scale breaches are growing in intensity and frequency in 2020, with the number of breaches increasing 273 per cent in the first quarter.

Government, healthcare, retail, and technology companies remain popular targets because of the high levels of personal-identifying data they possess. This is the risk of rapid digitalisation.

The trend is only expected to continue as cities around the world restructure their economies to effectively cope with new work and lifestyle changes.

Singapore is making its mark as a leading smart city, with cybersecurity as one of our core national priorities. The nation has consistently ranked among the top 10 in the UN Global Cybersecurity Index, which measures the commitment to cybersecurity for each country.

Over the last five years, we have observed significant bolstering of our capabilities with an influx of international cybersecurity companies, setting up Asia-Pacific offices in Singapore and the establishment of the Cyber Security Agency of Singapore, which provides centralised oversight of national cybersecurity functions.

Singapore is making strides to become more self-sufficient in this respect, with greater emphasis on training its own cybersecurity talent and developing its startup ecosystem. This dedication to securing our digital infrastructure is not a luxury but, indeed, an absolute necessity for virtual defence.

As geopolitical polarisation around certain technologies intensifies, Singapore finds itself a safe haven for international companies to extend its reach into the region.

Several prominent titans, such as Acronis and Group-IB, have since relocated their headquarters to Singapore, hired entire local teams and continue to train the next generation of Singaporean cybersecurity professionals.

As investors in the sector, we see tremendous potential in exporting the Singapore brand for cybersecurity and leveraging its smart city expertise to become an Asian hub for such technologies.

This year, we saw a rapid surge in demand for cybersecurity products and services particularly from larger mid-sized enterprises, a fairly new segment that includes companies taking up cybersecurity products and services for the first time.

Many of these Asian companies now recognise the urgency for cyber protection but remain price sensitive towards overly-complex options, typically from Western providers.

We believe there are pockets of opportunity to build more Asian-suited solutions with innovations around business models and rethinking of cybersecurity insurance relevant for the region’s context.

Some of these areas of growth revolve around the new demands of Asian enterprises as they leapfrog into multi-cloud infrastructures and other leaner requirements for Security Operating Centres and Managed Security Service Providers.

With the proliferation of Internet of Things networks into more working environments and production facilities, edge network security is also a key area, as threat counts and incidents continue to become commonplace.

Sistema Asia continues to work with Singapore government agencies, such as Enterprise Singapore, and other industry leaders to introduce and relocate advanced and established technologies from Russia to Singapore, for the greater Asia context.

These include solutions that provide AI-driven automation for cybersecurity operations, allowing security teams to manage larger scale of incident responses, threat management and detection.

There are also ongoing explorations in frontier technologies, like high-grade security involving sophisticated quantum encryption, to deal with next-generation attacks against high-value assets and infrastructure.

We believe that with intelligent and targeted technology assimilation, Singapore can continue to grow and enhance its local expertise, building new clusters of companies to become the cybersecurity hub of Asia.

The next decade of Asian digitisation will require cybersecurity as its bedrock and Singapore is uniquely poised to capitalise on this market momentum.

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Milipol Asia-Pacific

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