Confronting Escalating Cyber Security Risks: IT Professionals in ASEAN Take Action

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) officially inaugurated the Cybersecurity and Information Centre of Excellence (ACICE) in July 2023. The purpose of the centre is to enhance shared cyber threat defenses in the region. The establishment of the ACICE reflects the changing threat landscape, as cybercrime and phishing attempts have significantly increased in Southeast Asia. The recorded Future Chief Information Security Officer, Jason Steer, highlighted digital supply chains and artificial intelligence (AI) as important risk factors for ASEAN CISOs.

ASEAN’s digitization trend has led to a growing awareness of cyber risks among CISOs in the region. While organizations seek valuable data, they are also more conscious of the risks associated with acquiring and securing large amounts of data. The Asia-Pacific region, including ASEAN nations, experienced the highest number of cyber attacks globally in 2022. A survey conducted by Cloudflare revealed that the majority of cyber security managers in the region had experienced at least one cyber security incident in the previous year, with many encountering multiple incidents. Phishing, web attacks, and business email compromise are the top forms of cyber attacks faced by ASEAN organizations.

The reliance on digital supply chains further amplifies the risks associated with digitization. Organizations often overlook the cyber security postures of their extended ecosystem, which can have significant implications if a critical tool in the supply chain is compromised. Geopolitical conflicts, such as tensions between China and The Philippines, impact digital supply chains and introduce additional uncertainties related to cyber threats.

The rise of AI tools also raises concerns and opportunities for ASEAN CISOs. Discussion points include data governance, election manipulation, and improving security measures through AI technology. ASEAN nations are working collaboratively to strengthen cyber security, developing joint strategies, data protection frameworks, and emergency response teams. Countries such as Singapore and Malaysia are leading in advanced cyber security practices, while others are striving to meet regional standards.

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