Cybersecurity issues in focus in ASEAN

A.T. Kearney released a report titled ‘Cyber Security in ASEAN: An Urgent Call for Action’, warning about cyber-risks in the region and calling upon countries to take action to protect themselves. Southeast Asian nations have a USD$2.7 trillion GDP, making the region the world’s seventh largest market. With a population of 645 million people, ASEAN is the third most populous market in the world. The region’s growing relevance makes it prime target for cyberattacks. According to the report, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Vietnam are global hotspots for major blocked suspicious web activities. Spam botnets are also finding ASEAN countries to be attractive hosts for their attacks. If ASEAN failed to protect its cybersecurity, the research calculate that top 1,000 ASEAN companies could lose USD$750 billion in market capitalisation. The report highlights four urgent action for ASEAN: (1) elevate cybersecurity on the regional policy agenda, (2) secure a sustained commitment to cybersecurity, (3) fortify the ecosystem, and (4) Build the next wave of cybersecurity capability.

Cybersecurity featured among the topics discussed at the latest meeting of Foreign Affairs Ministry of ASEAN countries, held this month in Singapore, as Singapore is taking ASEAN Chairmanship in 2018. Ministers agreed on the importance of strengthening cybersecurity cooperation as a key element towards supporting the development of the digital economy. They also recognised the need for better coordination of cybersecurity policies and capacity building efforts in ASEAN.