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Cybersecurity Becomes Managements Top Priority

AOPG had the pleasure to attend a media briefing with Cisco Malaysia’s Managing Director Albert Chai, together with Cisco’s leading global expert in cloud and security, Regional Director (Cybersecurity) ASEAN Simon Cheang with also in attendance from A.T. Kearney, Gareth Pereira, Principal.

The session focused on the importance of how digital transformation is going to take place whether we like it or not and that CISCO will be assisting Malaysia make that transition with as little risk as possible as we move progressively towards a multi-cloud environment.

Multi-cloud transition, says Albert, is currently heavy on the minds of the countries top leaders. He knows this because Cisco has been working closely with the government for the last 23 years and are still in close quarters especially in these rapidly changing times.

“Our mission is to transform Malaysian lives using technology and we are proud of our partnership with (the) Malaysian government (lasting) the last 23 years. In fact, many agencies and many ministries rely on Cisco Malaysia as their digital platform to deliver citizen services to our rakyat,” he shared, adding that not only government but even the private sector relies on them to digitise their business.

With the world of multi-cloud expanding its availability to all industries, it can be expected that there will be a string of disruption that will follow. These are the thoughts, Albert says, that are on the minds of most Malaysians.

“Disruption and transformation has been on the lips of Malaysians for many quarters now. And cloud and the world of multi-cloud is one piece of the foundation to the journey to be a digital organisation and a digital company," he said adding that over 70% of management interviewed today say that cybersecurity is the top priority.

Moving to the multi-cloud environment is getting easier as time passes. But what hasn't quite caught up, is the security for the data that goes into the cloud. Security needs to be a high concern for organisations as they move applications to and from the cloud.

Albert believes this will be a growing trend in an economic sense wherever serving these applications makes sense and security is taken care of.

The legislation in Malaysia also needs to be updated. Currently it is not mandatory for organisations who have been victims to cybercrime to report the incident or to adhere to any rules with regards to information online.

According to reports, Malaysia is three times more susceptible to cybercrime and more likely to be used as a launch pad for attacks due to its advanced infrastructure. Countries around the region, with the exception of Singapore, are more than susceptible to attacks simply because they are yet to be given the training or the skill set needed to prevent the onslaught.

In fact, Simon says, the attacks are so advanced now, they don’t even require a person to launch an attack. It is all automated. This, he says, is why governments and organisations are unable to protect themselves due to the frequency of the attacks that come from every angle. Evidently the technology is too advanced and they are trying to catch up to the technology.

“The landscape of security is changing tremendously. While I’m speaking to you (about this) now, tomorrow the landscape will change. (Its) very very fast. It’s a catch-up game for most of us right now. It’s a big challenge for customers as well, adopting cybersecurity strategies, because it's changing so fast,” explained Simon.

One criteria that is missing to solve this problem are the skills necessary to do the job. With cybersecurity being at its infancy, and companies that make securing their data as the last on their list towards improving their revenue, the demand for security professionals isn’t there. This has created a void in the cybersecurity world that needs swift remedial action. 

“Currently we have 6,000 cybersecurity professionals in Malaysia. By 2020 Malaysia needs about 10,000 cybersecurity professionals. And that’s a challenge,” says Simon. Adding that this is not just in ASEAN but throughout the globe there is a huge deficit of skill sets to address the security question.

However a recent survey they have done, shows that the trend has been changing where the management are no longer placing security at the bottom of the list, but as the priority above everything else.

Cisco has put their money where their mouth is and invested 10 Billion globally into education to achieve the skill gap. They also launched their Catalyst 900 which helps locate cyber threats through encrypted messages.

Gareth Pereira added to the conversation by sharing that the current expenditure on cybersecurity is below what is needed to fight cybercrime effectively. With approximately 750 Billion USD potentially at risk through the regions top listed companies, it is imperative that these organisations begin to take important steps towards protection and detection of cybercrime.

Cisco is currently blocking 20 billion threats a day and lowered the detection time of a breach from 184 days, to 4.6 hours. By launching their ASEAN Cyber Defense Playbook, Cisco hopes to make it a simple, one box solution for companies and government to manage their security effectively and adequately as cybercrime can’t be prevented but it can be detected earlier to prevent irreversible damage.

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